Largest US potato state sees 25% drop in processor orders

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WISCONSIN, which grows the most varieties of any potato producing state in the USA, has seen a 25% decrease in processor contracts since the shutdown of the nation’s foodservice industry earlier this year.

the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) said there had been large volume reductions for growers who supply McCain Foods.

But the association's Executive Director, Tamas Houlihan, recently told the Wisconsin State Farmer that some of the market lost earlier in the year is now returning, 

“McCain recently has contacted its growers in search of additional potatoes,” he said, adding that that particular sector of the Wisconsin potato industry represents only about 20% of the state’s overall production. 

“We are primarily a fresh stock (41%) and chip stock (28%) potato state (the remaining 11% is in certified seed potato production). All the other sectors of the Wisconsin potato industry are doing well in spite of COVID.”

About 45% of the state's production goes to grocery stores and those can be a number of different varieties — russet, white, red. It also grows a significant amount of yellow-skin potatoes, and Tamas said there’s a large specialty potato market.

He said that over the past 20 years, consumption of canned and frozen vegetables had been slowly declining but, with the advent of the coronavirus, people are now stocking up with cans which could have a positive impact on growers. 

"We're hoping that this increase in vegetable and potato purchases at the grocery story is something that carries over, even after the coronavirus is under control. We feel like more and more people are starting to enjoy the benefits of cooking at home and eating healthy vegetables.”