CANADA – With over 25 years of experience in the produce industry, Patrick Mills has taken the helm as the Retail Promotion Director West/Canada for the Idaho Potato Commission, succeeding Kent Beesley, who recently retired.

Mills, known for his tenure at Bashas’ and Sal Amato Produce, expresses enthusiasm about his new role, highlighting the prowess of Idaho potatoes in building customer loyalty and enhancing retail sales.

“I’ve always admired how Idaho constantly works on new potato varieties and improvements in potato quality,” Mills notes, emphasizing the exceptional performance of Idaho® potatoes in the produce department.

His wealth of experience, starting as a produce merchandiser at Safeway and managing produce and floral products at Sprouts Farmers Market and Lucky’s Market, positions him well to drive Idaho potato promotion in the West.

Ross Johnson, Vice President of Retail and International at IPC, expresses confidence in Mills, citing his profound understanding of retailer needs and Idaho brand success. “We’re looking forward to watching him put his ingenuity to work!” Johnson adds.

Mills’ deep-rooted connection to the produce industry stems from his family’s legacy, spanning back to 1913 in the wholesale produce business.

“It’s a family-built business that dates back to 1913, and it’s still around today,” Mills proudly states, underscoring his inherent ties to the industry.

Canadian potato storage holdings above 3-year average

Meanwhile, in Canada, recent statistics indicate a notable 7.4% increase in total potato storage holdings compared to the three-year average, as of December 1, 2023.

Despite decent demand before Canadian Thanksgiving and sluggish post-holiday sales, storage levels remain robust. However, exports to the U.S. have dipped due to oversupply and lower pricing, impacting storage levels in various Canadian regions.

The fresh potato sector reveals a 3.7% decrease in storage, primarily in the eastern provinces, while the processing sector experiences a record-high increase of 13.7%, particularly in chip stock in Ontario.

Canadian French fry exports have surged by over 4%, indicating potential export opportunities amidst crop struggles in Europe and supply limitations in the Atlantic Northeast.

Seed inventory stands at 5.7% below 2022 levels, hinting at reduced planted acreage in 2023, posing potential challenges despite favorable crop conditions.

Disappearance rates up to November 2023 align with previous years, with lower disappearance attributed to increased cull rates and losses due to adverse weather conditions throughout the growing season.

“We have used estimated production figures per sector to look at disappearance in Fresh, Processing, and Seed,” UPGC experts note, highlighting the impact of weather-related challenges on cull rates and losses across various regions.

The comprehensive overview of the potato storage and industry trends in Canada sets the stage for navigating potential challenges and opportunities as the market continues to evolve.

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