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Potato market looking strong

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | June 8, 2023 5:31 PM

DENVER — The value of grocery store potato sales rose 16% during the first three months of 2023 as the total volume of sales fell by 4.4%, according to a press release from PotatoesUSA, the national marketing board representing U.S. potato growers.

The dollar value of all categories of U.S. potato products for the first quarter of 2023 was $4.2 billion, up from $3.6 billion for the first three months of 2022. However, the total volume of potato sales fell to 1.77 billion pounds in the first quarter of 2023 compared with 1.85 billion pounds during the same period of 2022, the press release noted.

However, total grocery store potato sales for the first quarter of 2023 are still above the 1.74 billion pounds sold during the first three months of 2019 — a year before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the press release said.

Kim Breshears, chief marketing officer for PotatoesUSA, said while the prices of all groceries have been going up, potatoes are still well-priced for consumers.

“It’s costing more to buy the same potato, but they’re still a good deal,” she said. “The dollars spent on potatoes are solid and strong.”

According to the press release, the value of grocery store sales of fresh potatoes rose 12.7% in the first three months of 2023 to $997 million compared with sales of $884 million during the same period in 2022. The volume of fresh potato sales fell to $989 million in the first quarter of 2023 from slightly more than $1 billion during the same period in 2022.

An average pound of fresh potatoes in the grocery store cost $1.01 in the first quarter of 2023 compared with 85 cents during the same period in 2022 — an 18.7% increase, the press release said.

Russetts remained the most popular potato in terms of both dollar sales and volume, with 604 million pounds at a total value of $511 million sold at an average price of 85 cents per pound in the first three months of 2023, the press release said.

Potato chips were the number one processed product, the press release added, with total first-quarter 2023 sales of nearly $2 billion and a volume of 1.2 million pounds and an average price of $6.60 per pound.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s consumer price index, the price of food rose an average 7.7% in the twelve months ending April 2023.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.