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National Potato Council tallies shutdown damages

The head of the National Potato Council in the US says it’s yet to be determined how much money the industry needs to be made whole in the wake of the coronavirus shutdowns, Capital Press reports.

However, “what we have identified is that there is between $750 million and $1.5 billion of products that are clogged up in the potato pipeline right now,” council CEO Kam Quarles said.

That is a combination of 2019-grown potatoes originally destined for processing as well as unsold potato products — “all as a result of the foodservice shutdown,” he said. Quarles said the supply of potatoes grown in 2019 for processing and stored “continues to build with every day that passes. It is a larger and larger oversupply.”

If USDA buys stored 2019 potatoes it “can mitigate the damage that is going to happen to the 2020 crop that is just being planted,” he said.

Buying 2019 potatoes immediately and in substantial volume “would give some clarity to growers and processors in regard to their needs for the 2020 crop. The council said the U.S. potato industry derives 60% of its $4 billion annual value from foodservice.

Read the full report in Capital Press here

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