It’s no secret that the availability – and therefore price – of produce can fluctuate throughout the year – it’s simple supply and demand, and well, seasons. These fluctuations can be even more dramatic when it comes to organic produce, because the supply is smaller to begin with. So if you’ve noticed that your favourite organic potatoes seem a bit pricier than usual, you’re not misremembering. They are a little more expensive than usual right now.
Turns out, every year around this time, organic potatoes go up in price. Potatoes are harvested in the fall, and kept in storage into the spring. Right around May-June, the storage crop of potatoes from Canada as well as our closer US neighbours is starting to get depleted. Red and yellow potatoes are the first to run out, with russets usually lasting through June. But the longer a potato is stored, the more energy and resources required to keep them from sprouting, making them even more expensive.
So usually starting in May, all of North America – especially the Western side – is hunting around for certified organic potatoes and the only farms that are able to provide good quality, new crop potatoes are in California. Farmers there know that this is their best opportunity to make some money, and are able to charge high prices for those potatoes… and even with the high prices, they sell out very quickly.
As an added issue, because we import those red and yellow potatoes from California (and in the middle of a pandemic, no less), there are extra freight, currency exchange, and inspection fees (did you know potatoes are highly regulated in Canada, and federal regulations require that anything being imported has to be inspected for quality/pests?).
All of that combined creates the perfect storm…and means that organic potatoes are always very expensive from May – June. But don’t worry, as soon as the market prices start to drop with new local crops of potatoes becoming available, our buyers will adjust the prices accordingly. Just another reason to look forward to summer!