Have you noticed a shortage of potato products at the grocery store in the last couple of months? I know I have. I mean, where are all the hashbrowns?
But are there actually fewer potatoes, or is the supply chain just messed up still?
Well, according to those at the top of the spud industry, the answer is the former. At least that’s the case for those in a state with the unofficial nickname of the Potato State.
That’s right; we are talking about Idaho.
In the Gem State, as it is officially known, potatoes are getting a bit rare.
I know, it seems a little ironic that there’s a shortage of potatoes in the only state known for them. This state is even home to the Idaho Potato Museum. It’s kind of like saying Florida is out of oranges or Wisconsin doesn’t have cheese.
So what’s causing the shortage?
Well, to be clear, the mess of the current Biden-influenced supply chain and inflation isn’t helping. Idaho, like everywhere else, has experienced empty store shelves and higher than average prices for months on end now.
But out of potatoes? Really…
According to both farmers and industry leaders, the shortage was a result of unusually hot temperatures last year. President and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, Jamey Higham, told Boise State Public Radio, “we had some just unbelievably hot temperatures here in Idaho” last June.
And the popular root vegetable doesn’t really like those hot temps.
As Higham says, “It did a number on our potato crop. And so, our yields were significantly down last year.” This is only exacerbated by the fact that this year’s harvest isn’t quite ready yet.
What that means for shoppers is that 1) availability of potatoes is limited and 2) prices are quite a bit higher.
Higham explained that, as usual, when something is in high demand but few supplies become available, prices for the few to be found rise, sometimes significantly. And that’s certainly been the case for potatoes.
However, according to Higham, once this year’s harvest comes due, which should begin this week, things should go back to normal.
Of course, that won’t happen overnight.
The “pipeline,” so to speak, isn’t nearly as full as usual when harvest begins. So, it will take a few weeks, if not months, to bring things back to what Idaho and US shoppers are used to seeing. For Higham, the hope is that by Labor Day, the state will be shipping out a “pretty good amount” of potatoes.
Shortly after that, consumers should start seeing the price of those potatoes and their products decrease slightly. However, Higham predicts they will likely remain higher than the average for the rest of the year.
As far as next year goes, Idaho should be on track to once again be the country’s largest potato producer, as temps this year in the state have been much cooler than last year.
Shawn Boyle, President of the Idaho Grower Shipper Association told MagicValley.com that, given the better weather and a few “test digs,” the state should have a “much better crop.”
Of course, it won’t matter how much better their crops are if Biden continues to screw with the supply chain. You know, like the idea that he wants all U.S. vehicles and transportation systems to switch to electric.
Tell me, how long do you think an electric charge will last on a truck that’s required to haul thousands of pounds of potatoes across the country? Trips with your average family-sized truck carrying a moderate camper or trailer require charging after just one hour of driving.
And suppose Biden’s administration insists upon making COVID or even monkeypox into another big thing like he’s starting to. In that case, you can kiss all those drivers and shipping workers goodbye, as well as the possibility of lower prices in the future.
But for now, you should start seeing more potato products back on the shelves soon.