Posts Tagged “potato shippers”
Historically, the produce industry gives truck transportation and trucking rates little thought, unless they are having a problem getting their product loaded, or rates are on the rise. Well, both are happening.
For example, several Northwest potato shippers have recently expressed concerns over what it cost to ship their potatoes. They say the situation has become enough of a concern in various parts of the country that more regional potato crops are being plants. Being closer to major markets means less transportation costs.
Valley Pride Sales LLC of Burlington, WA recently complained about short truck supplies and is concerned the situation will not be improving anytime soon. They also hear about a shortage of drivers. The company has seen freight rates to East Coast for russet potatoes costing $9 per 50-pound carton. This is seen as given potato shippers on the East Coast an advantage in the marketplace since they pay less for trucks.
New York Trucking Concerns
As with most companies in the produce industry, New York produce operations have seen escalating truck rates since 2017. However, shippers there are complaining less than shippers elsewhere. This is due to their location of being much closer to major Eastern metropolitan regions than Western and Midwest produce shipper.
For example, Torrey Farms Inc., of Elba, N.Y. observes the proximity to Eastern markets places their operation with many within five to six hours drive time. The company believes transportation will be a battle all summer long N.Y. While Torrey Farms typically has adequate trucks during June and July, by the start of July truck supplies already were tight this year.
New regulations that implemented electronic logging device mandates has made it harder for truckers reports Paul Marshall Produce Inc. of Batavia, N.Y. The trucking company notes two years ago the trucking lane from Elba to Chicago was pretty steady at $1,000 per load. In the summer of 2017, those rates escalated to $1,600.
At Turek Farms of King Ferry, N.Y., truck rates during the July Fourth holiday period were up 20 to 25 percent compared with a year ago. The company notes the new electronic logging device mandate rules mean adding another day to any trucking route more than 500 or 600 miles.
The Central Minnesota potato season kicks off the upper Midwest potato season each year and demand for trucks has been strong this year.
The season started July 24th with red potatoes out of Big Lake, MN as well as Long Prairie, MN although in most years Long Prairie gets underway a week to 10 days later. The two areas only have five or six major shippers, but they will load 4000 to 4100 trucks in roughly a six-week period. The season starts winding down after Labor Day. Central Minnesota russet shipments just started late last week.
The DeChene Corporation of Big Lake has finished its season, while Peterson Bros. River Valley Farms Inc. of Long Prairie should be finished by Labor Day. John Petron of Long Prairie should wrap up its season no later than the third week of September.
A few shippers in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota also market and ship potatoes from Big Lake and Long Prairie. While Big Lake and Long Prairie have wash plants, there are no storage facilities so they wash, pack and ship as much product as possible directly from there.
Some Red River Valley potato shippers, such as NoKota Packers Inc., of Buxton, ND ,which has both wash, packing and storage facilities handles early season spuds from Minnesota until the valley gets going. NoKota, which is one of the valley’s largest red potato shippers already had 44 truckloads of potatoes sold yesterday for this week (August 28 – September 1) that were grown in Central Minnesota.
A primary reason truck supplies can be in short supply, whether it’s Central Minnesota or the valley is the lack of freight to haul in into those potato producing areas.
NoKota Packers plans to get started with valley potatoes by September 11th. The valley’s largest shipper, Associated Potato Growers Inc. of Grand Forks, ND is hoping to get its season under by September 18th.
While shippers have been scrambling to get enough trucks this season out of Central Minnesota, load board service DAT recently reported a critical truck shortage occurred on August 16th out of Central Minnesota. It pointed out there were 23.4 loads of potatoes available for each truck posted! DAT reported at that time rates from St. Cloud, MN (which is 57 miles Southeast of Long Prairie and 27 miles northwest of Big Lake) were $3171 to Atlanta and $2652 to Dallas.
Yesterday NoKota Packers reported rates at about $3600 to Plant City, FL and $2800 to San Antonio.
Overall, potatoes are grown on approximately 324,000 aces, and will ship about 13 billion pounds of potatoes this season. That would fill about 500 football stadiums 10 feet high.
By early September, 50 percent of the potato harvest in western Idaho had been completed. The eastern side of the state was facing greater challenges with a lot of moisture and heat. Harvesting will finish in mid-October, with quality looking good.
Approximately 40 percent of Idaho potato shipments go to the fresh market.
Idaho potatoes – grossing about $5100 to Philadelphia.
U.S. Potato Shipments for 2014-15
About 442 million cwt. of potatoes were produced in the U.S. in 2014, 2 percent more than in 2013.
Table stock (fresh) shipments accounted for about 107 million cwt. of that total.
About 1.05 million acres of potatoes were harvested in the U.S. in 2014, up slightly from 2013.
The average yield last season, 421 cwt. per acre, was 7 percent higher than in 2013.
While production was up in 2014, prices were lower. The value of the 2014 crop was about $3.66 billion, down 7% from 2013. The average price, $8.88 per cwt., was 87 cents lower than the price for spuds harvested in 2013.
Of the 442 million cwt. total, 404 million cwt. were harvested in the fall.