Friday, October 26, 2012

This Week's Potato News

$1 gets you a "5-lb. Bag of Russett Potatoes" this week at Safeway.

Last week, $1.99 got you a 10 pound bag at the same grocery chain.

I'm pointing this out for those who still think that the typical American consumer is paying $1.30 to buy a pound of potatoes and that potato prices are up 306% since 2008.

In general, potato prices have risen faster than overall inflation since the 1980s (as seen in the following chart). I take serious exception to the claim that potato prices have exploded higher in the last few years though. I see no evidence of that at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), I see no evidence of that in my own purchases, and I see no evidence of that in regard to the prices received by Idaho's farmers.

October 22, 2012
Trickle Down Potato Prosperity

Idaho Potatoes

In 2011 Idaho farmers planted 320,000 acres of potatoes. The average yield was 398 hundredweight per acre. The average price paid to growers was $7.70 per hundredweight and the total value of production was $978.4 million.

Idaho farmers received 7.7 cents per pound for potatoes in 2011. If you are paying $1.30 per pound at the grocery store, then perhaps you should shop around more.

September 27, 2012
USDA: Vegetables and Pulses Outlook

Potatoes: The potato crop in 2012 is expected to expand by close to 7 percent from 429.6 million hundredweight (cwt) in 2011 to 459 million cwt. Through July, freshmarket potato prices are down approximately $2.75 per cwt from 2011 values, whereas processing prices show slight gains.

Hundredweight - Cwt

In North America, a hundredweight is equal to 100 pounds...

Those betting on potato hyperinflation must be severely disappointed right about now. Fortunately, I'm not one of them. What can I say? I love cheap potatoes.


Anonymous said...

Confirmed. Two weeks ago I bought five pounds of potatoes for forty eight cents.

Watchtower said...

10 lbs for $2.98 at my local 'highway robbery' grocery store.

I'm positive that Wal-Mart (20 miles away) has them cheaper.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Wow! That's an amazing deal. Granted, it was probably a loss leader for them on the hopes you'd fill your cart with full priced candy bars near the cash registers.

I'm going to predict that it didn't work for them in your case though. Just a hunch!

Stagflationary Mark said...


$2.98 isn't bad if you consider that it takes about 55 cents per mile to operate a vehicle (according to the IRS mileage deduction rates).

The time to drive to Wal-Mart is a factor too. I value my time.

I certainly factor those in.

Once a month I hit Costco, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, and Winco (20 mile trip overall). I tend to hit my local grocery stores mostly for the weekly sales, although an impulse buy can still happen. For example, I had a swiss cheese craving recently. Life's too short to obsess over every last price point. That said, it's been at least a decade since I've paid full price for canned soda in a grocery store. Not going to happen.

TJandTheBear said...

Eh, small potatoes. ;-)

oji said...

Ever try to grow your own? Potatoes are pretty easy.
Potato growers tend to use quite a lot of pesticides. Also, commercially produced potatoes have lost considerable nutrient value over time due to lack of proper soil care.

Homegrown tastes better too, and has a smooth, almost creamy texture. Digging them up can be fun too.

AllanF said...

Huh? Bags of potatoes? You guys need to get out more. Only immigrants and retirees buy raw potatoes by the bag. Do you buy your lumber by the log? Your hot dog on the hoof?

Today's busy working mothers and 47%-ers buy their potatoes value-added.

Stagflationary Mark said...


For what it is worth, we keep thinking that we're going to grow our own tomatoes someday.

Stagflationary Mark said...


I must admit that we buy the big box of Costco frozen fries from time to time. Pure laziness, lol.

Even then, the "value added" potatoes only come up to about 60 cents per pound. It's a 9 pound box under $6 if memory serves.

I had a baked potato with butter and sour cream last night though. There are few foods in the world I would prefer more. That would be true even if money was no object.

You know what would really work for me though? Value added basmati rice. I'd love to see each grain individually wrapped in the same hard plastic shell that many consumer goods are wrapped in. You know. It's that plastic that forces you to find a knife and you know going in that the plastic will put up a good fight. There's at least a 5% chance of drawing blood before it's over, lol.

dearieme said...

"Ever try to grow your own?" We grow a couple of varieties that we can't buy in the shops. Potato blight can be a real problem: we try to avoid it by sticking with early varieties.

dearieme said...

Today's lunch: soup, made from onions, potatoes (damaged ones and very small ones from our potato store) and goose (from the freezer; left over from last Christmas). Yippee.

Stagflationary Mark said...


Last night's dinner: a medium sized nearly perfect baked potato with butter, sour cream, salt, and pepper.

It was topped off with a small bag of Cracker Jacks and a handful of cashews.

No complaints! :)

dearieme said...

This is a variety we grew this year for the first time: it makes a lovely baking potato. We tend to eat it with heaps of butter, coleslaw and our own damson chutney. Mmmmm.

Stagflationary Mark said...


I ate another potato last night. If you are what you eat then I guess that makes me a tuber, lol.