IssuesFall 2011From Our Desk

From Our Desk

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From Our Desk

By now, you’ve probably heard about the two new tools P.E.I. growers and dealers will have to help them make their marketing decisions this season. At the end of November, the P.E.I Potato Board will begin reporting the Fresh Weight Average (average sale price of potatoes per hundredweight) and Grower Return Index (average grower price per hundredweight delivered to the packing shed) on a weekly basis in an effort to improve grower returns and profitability. “These tools will provide better market information to growers so they can make decisions most beneficial to their businesses,” says Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board.

Donald says the FWA will provide one number dealers and growers can use to track what potatoes are being sold for from week to week or relative to past years and also between regions, and the GRI will give growers a single indicator, as opposed to many different indicators, of how they may market their crops in terms of pricing.

The FWA and GRI have been reported to growers by the United Potato Growers of America for five years, and are key indicators of market pricing in the United States. Lee Frankel, president and CEO of UPGA, says these tools are positively influencing grower returns by putting the information necessary to make informed and intelligent marketing decisions back into the hands of growers. “These indices are tools to empower growers to better understand what is happening in the market. The grower has the information to make the critical decision of when to bring their potatoes to market and the knowledge of what that total return is. A good approximation of returns gives the grower the power, but also the responsibility, to take charge and be proactive in the marketing of his own crop.”

Prince Edward Island may be the first province to report FWA and GRI values, but it won’t be the last, according to Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada.

“All areas are willing to come on board to do this. Right now, we’re dealing with information that’s often from one to two weeks old and when you’re in the marketplace every day that’s really too long to make your shipping decisions,” he says.

UPGC is working east to west to help other regions begin the process: New Brunswick has recently agreed to  start the data collection process by gathering shipping information. In order to develop a nationwide FWA and GRI reporting system, data, such as storage holdings, what has been shipped to market and shipping point prices, must be gathered from each province. Once that data has been collected, MacIsaac says the formula is well proven. However, not all provinces are at the same level in terms of data collection, which will be one of the challenges MacIsaac must overcome to reach his goal of having all potato-producing regions in Canada working in the system over the next year—a task he says he’s looking forward to. “It’s always exciting and interesting when you have a new concept. We really want to be able to send this information out quickly and send it out often. I think we can do a better job if we work together and share some of our information,” he says.

A provincewide system reporting FWA and GRI values would be one more tool growers could use to help increase their returns. Will having access to these numbers be a marketing game changer in Canada? Let us know your thoughts at [email protected]