Chip potato markets remain flat. Dealers are concerned that slow movement might be backing up the crop. Market News data put Michigan chip potato shipments from the 2017 crop, through December 9, at 4.964 million cwt. That is 353,000 cwt behind last year’s pace, a 6.6% decline. A portion of the decline is due to chip company efforts to clean up potatoes from other growing areas before moving into the Michigan crop. However, shipments are continuing to lag behind last year’s pace, both for Michigan and for the US as a whole. While there is concern that demand for potato chips is slumping, at least some of the reduced movement can be attributed to the higher solids in this year’s crop, which is resulting in better recovery rates at chip plants.
Canada is reporting that it had 80.12 million cwt of potatoes in storage on December 1. That is 5.06 million cwt more than it held at the same time, in 2016, a 6.7% increase. There are questions about the validity of the Canadian data, but the questions mostly concern stocks of table and processing potatoes in New Brunswick.
Ontario had 5.30 million cwt of potatoes in storage on December 1. That is 1.28 million cwt more than the province held at the same time, on last year’s drought-reduced crop, a 31.7% increase. The Ontario stocks include 3.31 million cwt of chip potatoes. That is 580,000 cwt more than they province held a year ago, a 21.3% increase. Ontario’s chip potato stocks are slightly lower than they were in any of the years between 2013 and 2015, but they should be sufficient to carry chip producers through June, with very few imports during the transition to the local 2018 crop.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending December 9, 2017 totaled 1.965 million cwt. That is down from 1.981 million cwt shipped cwt during the same period, in 2016. Michigan packers shipped 59,523 cwt of fresh potatoes during the week ending December 9. That is up from 52,850 cwt a year earlier. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 82.4% Russet potatoes, 6.7% Yellow potatoes, 8.7% Round White varieties, 1.3% Reds, and 0.8% fingerlings.
Michigan packers are selling 10# bags of Size A Russet potatoes for $1.60-$1.80 per bag, unchanged from last week. Wisconsin packers are selling 5/10# Russet potatoes for mostly $7.00-$7.50 per 50# bale, unchanged from last week at this time. Wisconsin 50-70 count cartons are selling for mostly $12.00-$13.50 per box, up from $12.00-$13.00 at the same time last week. The weighted average price for Idaho Norkotahs is $16.88 per cwt, down from $17.34 per cwt a week ago.
Michigan packers are selling 10/5# bags of Round White potatoes for $9.00-$11.00 per 50# bale, unchanged for the week. Long Island packers are selling Size A Round White potatoes for $8.00-$8.25 per 50# sack, unchanged for the week. They are selling Chefs for $9.00-$9.50 per 50# sack, also unchanged. Maine shippers are selling 5/10# bags of 2” min Round White potatoes for $9.00-$9.50 per 50# bale, unchanged from last week at this time.