Chip potato markets are quiet in the lead up to Christmas. The major buzz in the market regards Campbell Soup’s purchase of Snyder-Lance for $4.87 billion. That deal also includes Kettle Foods. It is our understanding that Kettle was in the process of consolidating its supplier base ahead of the announced merger. The deal should improve Snyder-Lance’s ability to compete in certain distribution channels. It probably will be a net positive for the potato chip industry.
USDA reports that US potato growers had 264.15 million cwt of potatoes in storage on December 1. That is 8.75 million cwt less than they held a year earlier, a 3.2% decline. When paired against USDA’s November crop estimate, and known usage patterns, the data point to potential adjustments to production estimates for certain states, including Michigan. Other states showing abnormally large stocks drawdowns, relative to USDA production data include Minnesota and Wisconsin.
USDA puts Michigan’s December 1 potato stocks at 11.0 million cwt. That is up 1.1 million cwt from 2016 stocks, an 11.1% increase. While local observers doubt that holdings are that large, calculated disappearance is up 480,000 cwt from last year’s level. Reported shipments of chip potatoes and table potatoes fell 243,000 cwt short of last year’s pace, during the period before December 1. It appears that the data acknowledge the late season loss of close to 1,500 acres of chip potatoes, which were abandoned after a hard freeze. However, there does not appear to be any recognition that this year’s yield may need to be adjusted downward.
US fresh potato shipments for the week ending December 16, 2017 totaled 2.138 million cwt. That is down from 2.307 million cwt shipped cwt during the same period, in 2016. Michigan packers shipped 63,700 cwt of fresh potatoes during the week ending December 16. That is up from 60,200 cwt a year earlier. Last week’s Michigan shipments were 82.9% Russet potatoes, 6.8% Yellow potatoes, 9.6% Round White varieties, 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 $12.50-$13.50 per box, up from $12.00-$13.50 at the same time last week. The weighted average price for Idaho Norkotahs is $16.88 per cwt, unchanged for the week.
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.