The Gem State's tuber tumult is a shortage, not a famine.
Last Monday, August 8th, Magic Valley Times-News reported shipments of fresh Idaho potatoes coming out of Rupert would be lower than usual. Shawn Boyle, president of the Idaho Grower Shipper Association, attributed this year's low potato inventory to last year's summer scorchers. While the shortage is problematic for potato shippers, Boyle said patrons will continue enjoying fries in restaurants and potatoes on the shelves at grocery stores.
Consumers might not notice anything, but internally, we will have to work hard to manage the food supply chain and keep people happy.
Jamey Higham, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission echoed Boyle's perspective. Last June's unusually high temperatures did yield a significantly lower harvest, but the potato CEO contends no gap exists. The real issue, he commented, is the burden of higher prices shouldered by consumers the while it takes this year's potato harvest to come in.
I don't anticipate these prices staying high long-term. And once harvest gets under way, it'll get back down into a better spot. But I do expect prices to be strong all year this year.
Idaho running low on potatoes makes for a punchy headline, sure, but let's stick to the facts. This is nothing like the Great Irish Potato Famine of 1845. The Gem State's spud harvest that kicked off last week is expected to significantly improve the situation by Labor Day.