EOTN- PEI (Summer 2010)

Prince Edward Island

By Boyd Rose,

Prince Edward Island Potato Board

Did We Leave Money on the Table? The 2009/10 marketing season is drawing to a close, and it has been a disappointing year financially for many growers. Canadian production and holdings were at reasonable levels for the 2009 crop, but due to very strong yields in Idaho and a few other areas, as well as the recession’s impact on processing utilization and food service sales, markets across North America felt sluggish all season.

Low grower returns for tablestock potatoes resulted, and buyers were able to purchase high-quality fresh potatoes all season long at prices below the cost of production. In Prince Edward Island, our total sales volume (to June 6, 2010) was actually up slightly from the previous year, but when you do the math on the returns to growers, the season was far from successful.

There is no question that the weakened economy and a big potato crop south of the border put serious downward pressure on prices. However, we felt all season long prices were lower than they should have been, given the supply available and the movement we were experiencing. Did we,
as Canadian growers, leave money on the table?

Prices to growers were less than half of what we received in 2008/09, yet prices to consumers did not change significantly. Extremely low prices for U.S. potatoes were communicated to us for most of the season, yet we did not see major increases in the presence of U.S. potatoes in Canadian markets. Could we as Canadian growers have received more for our potatoes in the Canadian market if we’d believed our holdings numbers and communicated that more clearly and consistently to the market?

We don’t have a definitive answer, just a feeling that we could have done better.

Upcoming meeting:

Friday, August 13, 2010

Seed potato grower tailgate session

Kensington Potato Services, 4:00 – 6:30 pm

Topic: International Potato Marketing Initiatives