TOTAL losses from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the Washington State’s potato industry is estimated at more than $1 billion, according to a study by Washington State University.
The university’s IMPACT Centre of the School of Economic Sciences conducted the study, after being commissioned by The Washington State Potato Commission.
The pandemic has disrupted the supply chain, particularly in the foodservice sector, where French fries made from frozen potatoes and russets grown for restaurants for baked potatoes went unsold.
Potential losses of state taxes by unsold product, along with links in the supply chain affected by the drop in production and processing, were also highlighted in the study.
The commission's Director of Governmental Affairs, Matt Harris, said the report revealed just how important potatoes are to the state’s economy and said the value they bring goes far beyond each individual farm.
Growers have suffered losses of around $29.2 million from the drop in demand and quality of the 2019 harvest, according to the report. Acreage for the 2020 fall harvest dropped 13%, which represents a drop of more than 729,000 tons of potatoes, according to the commission.
The acreage drop resulted in $270.4 million net loss in productivity while potato processors have suffered $714 million in lost productivity.