By Ted Kreis
Yellow potatoes continue to gain market share and the gain is mostly at the expense of russets and whites, two potato types shippers in the Red River Valley haven’t grown for the fresh market in years.
Red River Valley red production has been up and down in recent years but one trend is clear, the valley is growing more yellows. In 2010 the valley produced just over 200,000 hundredweight (cwt.) of yellow potatoes. Just five years later in 2015 the valley produced 607,000 cwt., a three-fold increase. In 2016 the number increased even more despite some yellow losses in the northern valley. On a percentage basis, yellow potatoes made up just six percent of the Red River Valley fresh crop in 2010; the past two years they have averaged 14.5 percent.
Heimbuch Potato located south of Oaks in southeast North Dakota is geographically separated a bit from other Red River Valley shippers but they have close business ties with the valley. They are also included with the Red River Valley for USDA production and shipment numbers. Not too long ago Heimbuchs grew three types of potatoes for the fresh market; reds, yellows and russets. But brothers Chad and Josh Heimbuch picked up on the popular yellow trend early and in 2013 they switched to all yellow potato production.
Other Color Trends
Nationwide white potatoes for the fresh market have been the big losers. Since the 2008 crop year white potato shipments have decreased 43.3 percent, according to numbers compiled by the North American Potato Market News.
Russet shipments so far this season mimics closely 2008 although russets are down 7.7 percent from 2009 when they hit a 10 year peak.
U.S. red shipments had increased about 14% between 2009 and 2015 crop years but have regressed this year because of short supplies here in the Red River Valley, the nation’s largest red producer..
(Ted Kreis is the Marketing & Communications Director for the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, East Grand Forks, MN)