The 39th annual Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference and Trade Show started its three-day run Tuesday, Feb. 2, on Zoom and at the Ski Hi Complex in Monte Vista. Brian Williams of the Monte Vista Journal reports.
Williams writes that the annual conference shifted mostly virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first day’s Zoom sessions were centered on potatoes and began at 8 a.m. and continued to about 1 p.m. The San Luis Valley is the second largest fresh potatoes region in the U.S.
John Toaspern, Potatoes USA Chief Marketing Officer, gave an overview of potato sales from March to December of last year during his 30-minute session. His report was mostly positive. Retail sales soared and continue to do so as people stayed home during the pandemic.
“The thing that was exciting for our industry was that potatoes were the pandemic powerhouse,” Toaspern said. “We saw a significant increase in potato purchases. And this was for a number of reasons — comfort, familiarity, storability. Potatoes were the leading vegetable in terms of increases during that period.”
“Ultimately, Americans still love potatoes,” Toaspern said. “The number one vegetable sold in America, potatoes are on 84 percent of all food service menus and when surveyed Americans say that the potato is their favorite vegetable. So, we are in a great place.”
While the international market was off overall by 4%, Toaspern pointed out that some significant gains were made in China and Japan. “We are not in a terrible position and I think we can recover quite quickly this year,” he said.
Source: Monte Vista Journal. Read the full report here
Photo: Monte Vista Journal