J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 9 6 POTATO GROWER Blair Richardson, President and CEO, Potatoes USA Demand for potatoes in both the United States and across the globe is strong and outpacing production. Based on sales, production, trade and other data it is clear market conditions have changed for pota- toes over the past decade. Sales of potatoes in the U.S. are up 3.2% while exports are up 6% from 2014 to 2017. While many may smile and comment that we sell what we pro- duce; however, that naively ignores the underlying strength in demand and the fact that we have achieved reductions in waste throughout the distribution system while consis- tently producing more potatoes. Recognition of this dynamic situa- tion is significant because too often the narrative in the potato industry is about demand being on a down- ward slope with no end in sight. I have heard this since joining this industry; but this is just not true. While retail sales of fresh potatoes have been trending downwards, this decline has begun to flatten out. This is countered by the fact that increased demand for other potato products at retail and foodservice as well as food manufacturing demand are surpassing the decline in fresh sales. Based on increased imports and rising prices to growers, at retail and for processed products one can even say that supply is lagging demand. As briefly mentioned, another very important factor in determining actual demand for potatoes is increasing, is to look at the declines in waste throughout the system; from the farm level to the process- ing plants and at retail and foodser- vice. Moreover, we have addressed consumer concerns at home by offering small and convenience- focused packages. Waste has dropped significantly for potatoes at the consumer level. This means the same number of harvested potatoes are feeding more peopleā€¦or, per- haps, people may be eating more potatoes than we have been told. Regardless, we know the demand for potatoes is strong and appears to be increasing. There are however, trends and fac- tors in domestic and international markets that the potato industry must be aware of and respond to if we are going to maintain this demand. Domestically the biggest factor is the continued movement by consumers towards convenient food. This manifests itself in areas from reduced purchases of scratch ingredients to increased purchases of ready to eat foods and meal kits Potatoes USA Mes sage Potato Demand Increases