May 3, 2023
Vegetable/Potato Industry Snapshot
Fresh market vegetables
- Wholesale growers experienced substantial variation in market pricing in 2022 with some varieties bringing good prices in certain time periods while other varieties or times saw disappointing prices.
- Inflation in input costs reduced margins last year, but supply costs have fallen somewhat, and the availability of supplies like packaging is improving.
- CSAs and farm stands have seen some sales declines since the COVID-driven peak in 2020-2021. Growers are focused on right-sizing production to new consumer demand levels. Prepared foods have been a big hit in farm stands.
- Maine’s 2022 crop continues to move in an orderly manner through both normal and niche marketing channels. In addition to supplying the three main processors in the area, Maine once again has shipped fry quality potatoes to the Pacific Northwest. Last year the shipments went to Lamb Weston in Washington State, while this year the shipments were to Simplot in Idaho. Total volume shipped from the 2022 crop exceeded the 2021 crop shipments by 100k cwt and totaled 250k cwt. These shipments are nearing completion. This has kept demand and prices for Maine potatoes strong.
- Contract values for the 2023 growing season have not yet been settled in Maine, but are beginning to be settled across the country. In Idaho, growers rejected contract offers from all three major processors and the processors are now taking the contract offers directly to the growers. Negotiations are continuing in other areas, including Maine. Contract pricing is said to be 17%-22% higher. A contract with one of the smaller processors in Maine has been settled with an increase of 17%.
- Seed and tablestock markets continue to be strong, with price increases in the $2/cwt range compared to last year. The seed industry in Maine has experienced higher than normal disease readings that have required waivers to be approved by the State Seed Board in order to ensure sufficient supplies of seed to plant the 2023 Maine crop. Generally speaking, seed supplies are very tight across North America as well. Chipstock supplies have tightened in recent months, which has increased the price for open market chipstock supplies. Overall supplies of potatoes across the U.S. are approximately 3% lower compared to the prior year, while Maine supplies are 7% higher. This is likely due to a second strong year of production as previously mentioned.
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