• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 27s

Alaska-grown potato sales decline

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: John Thain - 6:40 PM August 13, 2014
PALMER –

On the last day of summer break in the Mat-Su Valley, some students are found in a field.

It’s peak harvest season at VanderWeele Farm in Palmer.

Mixed vegetables like broccoli and lettuce are in demand and sales have been good, but greens are just a third of what this farm produces.

The real moneymaker is potatoes.

“We try to supply the Anchorage market and Fairbanks and Soldotna, the Kenai Peninsula,” said farmer Ben VanderWeele.

VanderWeele harvests 2,000 tons of potatoes every year, but in his 46 years of growing in the Valley he has never had the problem he faces now.

Inside his storage refrigerator are mounds of spuds he says shouldn’t be there.

“I have too many left, that’s right. They need to be gone before we start harvest, which is Monday after Labor Day. They need to be out of here so we can put the new crop in here,” VanderWeele said.

Alaska-grown potato sales at grocery stores are way down compared to last year, according to the state Division of Agriculture.

Major potato producers, like VanderWeele, are worried they will not sell all of last year’s potatoes before it’s time to harvest next month.

“We’ve got bills today and the bills are being paid by the sell of potatoes,” VanderWeele said.

He is hoping Alaskans will step up to help the local potato industry by choosing to buy local.

There are a number of factors contributing to slow potato sales, according to the state. They include dieting trends to avoid starchy food, more interest in specialty potatoes, and lower-priced spuds coming up from Outside.

VanderWeele gives all of his smaller potatoes to charity. The ones he can’t sell or give away will go to feed animals.

Latest Stories

  • News

    UPDATE: Police locate missing 4-year-old girl

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 27, 20:58

    Last updated at 10:20 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27 Four-year-old Alyiah Touyon has been located and is safe, according to Anchorage police spokesperson Jennifer Castro. “Officers located her down the street at a residence a couple blocks away,” said Castro. “She’s safe and okay.” About 30 people turned out to help search for Touyon, but […]

  • News

    DOC commissioner stands by decision to close Palmer prison after backlash from union

    by Alexis Fernandez on Jul 27, 20:40

    The Alaska Department of Corrections commissioner issued a statement Wednesday standing by his decision to close the Palmer Correctional Center, despite backlash from the union representing correctional officers. On Tuesday, the DOC announced plans to close the prison by the end of the year due to state budget cuts. The 500 minimum to medium security […]

  • News

    Economic outlook shows declining consumer confidence, expected job losses in Anchorage

    by Heather Hintze on Jul 27, 20:08

    Consumer confidence in Anchorage is at an all-time low, according to the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation’s (AEDC) three-year economic outlook. AEDC randomly surveyed 350 households in Anchorage which rated their optimism on a scale of 1 to 100. In the second quarter, for the first time since AEDC started the survey in 2011, consumer optimism […]

  • News

    War Birds take to the skies over Anchorage ahead of Arctic Thunder

    by Bonney Bowman on Jul 27, 19:24

    The Arctic Thunder Air Show and Open House is this weekend at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, but it’s not all about the latest and greatest airplanes. World War II-era planes knows as War Birds are also part of the air show. The War Birds are part of the Wings of Freedom Commemorative Air Force, […]

  • Crime

    Anchorage man accused of targeting, assaulting registered sex offenders

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 27, 16:47

    An Anchorage man has been arrested and indicted on multiple charges of assault, robbery, burglary and theft after conducting targeted attacks on registered sex offenders, according to a Wednesday release from the Alaska Attorney General’s Office. According to prosecutors, 41-year-old Jason Christian Vukovich attacked at least three men listed on the Alaska Sex Offender Registry […]

  • News

    Harry Brower Jr elected new North Slope Borough mayor

    by Associated Press on Jul 27, 16:43

    The North Slope Borough has a new mayor following a runoff election last week. Harry Brower Jr. was sworn Tuesday after absentee and questioned ballots were tallied and the results of the election were certified. He is the brother-in-law of Charlotte Brower, who was recalled as mayor earlier this year after she was linked to […]

  • Politics

    Murkowski raises more than $730K during latest quarter

    by Associated Press on Jul 27, 14:22

    U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski brought in more than $730,000 during the latest fundraising quarter. As of June 30, the Republican had nearly $3.1 million available. Murkowski faces no major opposition in next month’s GOP primary. Independent Margaret Stock, who will first appear on the November general election ballot, reported raising about $190,000 from April through […]

  • Lifestyle

    Federal Reserve keeps interest rates near record lows

    by CBS/AP on Jul 27, 12:01

    WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates unchanged while noting that near-term risks to the economy have diminished. “The Fed seems intent on telling the markets that a September hike is a possibility,” Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group, emailed. “They do this not because they are intent to raise but to […]