‘Redirecting more product to a market that already has enough supply is extremely tough.’
Marketers of Prince Edward Island potatoes say they have limited choices for replacing sales lost since the United States border was closed because of the finding of the potato wart fungus in two fields on the island.
According to the P.E.I. Potato Board, fresh potato exports to the United States are valued at $120 million per year, therefore the export restriction is affecting the Island economy by $2 million per week.
Bill Enserink’s crew of eight at Red Isle Produce in Charlottetown would normally spend their days filling orders, with more than 90% of the potatoes going to the United States.
“We have a long list of customers in the United States that are suffering right now because it’s difficult to fill the hole. It’s difficult for them to pivot and go in a new path in order to discover alternative sources of supplies “According to Enserink.
“In North America, we currently have a huge logistics problem, and finding vehicles is difficult. It’s even more challenging for customers when you have to start obtaining products from a whole new place.”
Red Isle Produce’s potatoes are typically shipped down the eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida, as well as to Puerto Rico.
Looking for new markets in Canada, according to Enserink, is not a good option for his company, which does most of its business south of the border.
Enserink explained, “There are already people selling to existing clients into those Canadian marketplaces.”
“Plus, such markets have locally grown food, so redirecting extra product to a market that already has enough supply is quite challenging.”
According to Enserink, an advertising campaign in other parts of Canada could assist drive sales, but it would be difficult.
“It is doable, but logistics are an issue. We don’t have a large transportation lane that can transport goods west of Ontario “According to Enserink.
“We could do it, but moving the volume we’re sending into the United States right now would be impossible.”
According to Enserink, there are some concerns that an oversupply of potatoes may drive down prices.