Potato industry adapting to pandemic challenges

A potato industry representative says consumers are still likely to find fewer options at the grocery store today than they did pre-pandemic as processors face several shortages.

Kelly Turner with the Michigan Potato Industry Commission tells Brownfield companies have narrowed in on what is in highest demand.

“To ensure that they have product on the shelves and that it’s the stuff that’s in most demand,” she explains.

Two years into the pandemic, Turner says while there was an initial spike for shelf-stable products, demand has held steady.

“We still see a higher demand for fresh stock and chip potatoes than pre-pandemic,” she says.

Along the way shortages of workers, edible oil, and packaging have created more collaboration along the food supply chain.  Today, Turner says freight is a top concern as labor remains tight.

“Growers are paying more in freight for a truckload of potatoes one way than it costs them to grow those potatoes and harvest them,” she shares.

The commission is hosting its annual winter conference in Grand Rapids this week.

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