Members of the Potato Marketing Association of North America warned processors that unless profitability is restored in the grower community, it will only be a matter of time before quick-serve restaurants will run short on fries.
Speaking at the recent meeting held in Toronto, Ed Van Dellen, technical director of the Potato Growers of Alberta said that QSR's will then have to tell their customers, "Sorry, we are all out of fries."
However, that unlikely scenario was on a wish-list as members of the 25-year-old association negotiate annual contracts.
"Financial returns to producers have continued to decrease, although production costs have soared," according to Dale Lathim of Othello, WA, executive director of the Potato Growers of Washington, newly elected president of the group.
Lathim continued, "The result has been financial disaster for many producers, despite the industry's growth worldwide."
PMANA says growers have done all they can to reduce overhead, and the supply chain must now provide better returns to the primary producer. For this reason the group is urging growers to lower production by planting enough acres to cover contract commitments for the coming year.
Participants noted that it was only severe weather conditions that prevented a pricing disaster. Many potato-producing areas were hit with excessive drought, excessive rainfall or both.
In a second effort, members are planning further contact with consumer groups and QSRs to bring home the realities faced by growers. The PMANA hopes communication will provide the wake-up call necessary to prevent further damage to the industry