Before you think about French fries as a side dish to your burger…consider that they could push the price of your overall meal. 2021 was a challenging year for the ag industry across the Pacific Northwest, and those ramifications linger this year, including for consumers.
Washington state Potato Commission Executive Director Chris Voigt says last year's heat dome, the extremely hot temperatures the region experienced in late June, led to a smaller crop than expected.
He says in a typical year, potatoes harvested in October will continue to be shipped through the middle of July the following year. But this year, the Washington potato community ran out of spuds a few weeks early.
"Everyone ran out a few weeks early, normally Idaho has old crop potatoes into August, but they are out also. So, there's really a shortage of potatoes going on right now. And so, that's why in the grocery stores you're seeing the price of potatoes elevated compared to where they normally are."
Voigt points out prices at your local grocery store are roughly 50% percent higher year-over-year. Despite those elevated prices, Voigt says potatoes are one of the most cost-effective ways of providing quality nutrition.
As far as this year's crop is concerned, Voigt says the heat the area saw in mid to late July and continuing into August was much better for the plants and should not negatively impact yields. Washington potato growers planted roughly 160,000 acres in 2022.