French fry processors will pay Idaho potato growers a slightly higher price this year, but will order fewer because of lower demand from restaurants and foodservice outlets closed by the COVID-19 shutdowns, Capital Press reports.
Idaho leads the nation in potato production. More than one-third of the state’s crop is grown for processing. The annual contract between growers and processors calls for a 2% price increase from 2019, in response to growers’ higher labor and machinery costs, said Dan Hargraves, acting executive director of the Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative. He would not disclose the 2020 price. SIPCO negotiates contracts on behalf of growers.
Gowers have been notified by processors that there will be a reduction in preseason contract volumes of 15-25%,” he said. Some processors distributed the acreage reductions equally, “which was greatly appreciated by growers.”
“It came at a time when growers already made significant investment to grow the crop-year 2020 crop, so some costs will be difficult if not impossible to recover,” he said, as fixed costs are spread over fewer acres. Many seed potatoes, for example, have been delivered and prepared for planting.