Knowledge Exchange

News

Vegetables

Fresh Market

  • Growers are hopeful for improved pricing in 2022 as planting season nears, counting on some upward pressure on vegetable prices spilling over from commodity prices and general inflation. 2021 pricing was disappointing at the wholesale level for many growers.
  • Input cost inflation has significantly affected growers, with everything from labor to energy, to packaging, all much more expensive than last year.

Processing Vegetables

  • A major processing plant is currently for sale, leading to uncertainty as to the stability of the market going forward. Acreage continues a modest long-term decline, but price outlook for 2022 is steady. Cabbage acreage in particular, is down. Dry bean interest is up.

Potatoes

  • Maine saw record yields in 2021, and a bumper crop, at 18.42MM cwt. This, coupled with short crops in other major growing regions, put Maine growers in a favorable position.
  • Due to the significant increase in overall yields and a 2,600 acre increase in 2021 planted acreage, many growers found themselves short of storage capacity. Most were able to either market the extra potatoes during the harvest season or find temporary storage that enabled them to get the crop under cover before the harvest window closed. This included several growers that utilized hangars on the former Loring Air Force base in Limestone, which attracted local media attention.
  • Potato Markets: Demand for potatoes nationwide is strong across nearly all market segments. Demand for processing potatoes, which make up a significant portion of the Maine supply is very strong due to smaller crops in the Western producing regions. Overall 2021 production across the U.S. was down approximately 1.6% from 2020. The shortage of French fry-quality potatoes in Western states has caused Maine growers to ship potatoes to Washington State, a remarkable turn of events. To date, 11 rail cars have been sent, the equivalent of 44 truckloads. Expectations are that this may continue with several hundred car loads possibly moving from Maine to Washington.
  • Both seed and tablestock markets are also good, with prices similar to last year and quality being very good. Chipstock movement has been steady, although a large Maine crop could prove a challenge to fully move, as chipstock demand has not been as strong as french fry demand and chipstock supplies nationally being more abundant. Contract volumes in Maine were higher than the previous year and some extra buying has occurred. Cross-border trade restrictions due to the discovery of Potato Wart Fungus in Canada have reduced imports of seed and tablestock potatoes, which has had a positive price effect for U.S. growers.