Grocers allege potato group pumped up spud prices

By MSNMoney partner Jun 14, 2013 10:28AM

The Associated Press

A U.S. wholesale grocer says America's potato farmers have run an illegal price-fixing cartel for a decade, driving up spud prices while spying on farmers with satellites and aircraft fly-overs to enforce strict limits on how many tubers they can grow.

Kansas-based Associated Wholesale Grocers' lawsuit against United Potato Growers of America and two dozen other defendants was shifted this week to U.S. District Court in Idaho, America's top potato-producing state, which provides 30% of the nation's supply.

The grocery group, a cooperative which supplies more than 2,000 stores including IGA, Thriftway and Price Chopper in 24 states, contends that the potato growers banded together in 2004 to illegally inflate prices in a scheme akin to the petroleum-producing OPEC cartel, reducing planting acreages and destroying potatoes, all to restrict what was available for sale.


Jun 14, 2013 11:10AM
Potato prices? What about the oil companies? They are making record profits and they are worried about spuds? Lets take a look at something that is real price fixing!
Jun 14, 2013 11:28AM

??? Crop "price fixing" has been around as long as I have been alive (and I am old and retired).


But, in the cases, I know of, the U.S. government is the one that sets the crop limit and fixes the price to the consumer.


Try growing wheat, for sale, without getting USAG's permission, and they will spot it (using sats and fly over planes, and WILL come by and plow it under (then charge you for the trouble) to keep the price of bread and flour up). Same with cotton, soy beans, corn, etc. That is the reason the program to pay farmers to NOT GROW CROPS exists. The tax payer pays twice. First to pay for the land to lay fallow, then with price supports at the retail end.


Big seed sellers (I am not sure names can be used) participate in this by letting the government know who buys what. So, I can not see the potato group being any different.


Meat, milk, cheese, etc. all fall under the same umbrella. Check the market price for meat on the hoof (like pork or beef) and you will see the MAXIMUM any farmer will receive. Then calculate 60% after processing weight, add  ten cents per pound (very generous) for processing, and you will see what you pay at the store is WAY above true market "supply and demand".


So, is this "product control for market balance" or "price fixing"?

Jun 14, 2013 12:16PM
The largest Cartel of all, the US government.
Jun 14, 2013 10:53AM
Sure! Shift the case to Idaho where it will get a fair hearing!!
Jun 14, 2013 11:56AM
Potato's? What about the "Milk Cartels"?? That's the one they should be going after.
Jun 14, 2013 12:31PM

When will the public learn that everything is fixed....big companies control the country one way or another.........medical insurance companies, oil companies, large farming concerns, etal.

Lookwhat has occurred here in Penna and Ohio, NY and WVa. The Marcellus Shale field

generated so much gas that the price fell they quit drilling as much til the price

came back up to make it MORE profitable.

By the way, what about the drug companies raking in big profits....protected by the FederalGumint?

Jun 14, 2013 12:28PM

Another day another group shafting consumers. That and our clueless, lost in space government that does nothing about this or fails to enforce the rules evenly and protects corporate interests first.


Want to know the real bad thing about potatoes? I saw a documentary that there is a real and growing chance we are setting ourselves up for a repeat of something similar to the Irish potato famine. Similar practices are resulting due to less diversity in crops and pests are getting resistant to insecticides. We see it approaching but little is being done so far. One reason though is fast food and the russet potatoes that are perfect for fries. Interesting how things can be connected. But yes one more food source being threatened that shouldn't be, there are some farmers that are growing diversified crops that include other strains of potatoes but we need more.

Sorry for the somewhat off topic post.


I think its time

Jun 14, 2013 11:00AM
Let's see, I just bought 10# from my local grocery store for $2.99.  Sounded pretty fair to me.
Jun 14, 2013 12:35PM

WAIT A MINUTE.  Why can't the farmer set the price he wants to be paid for his product.

Walmart does it to the consumer so does every other retailor.  Farming is the only business that i know of where the person buying the product is setting the price, 


The oil companies have done it for year, even the gas station in my home town doe it if one goes  up they all go up.  This is crazy adn it is not price fixing it is free enterprise.  Some poeple think the farmer should not have the right to ask the price he want.

Jun 14, 2013 11:50AM
Price-fixing cartel...fu*king hilarious...
Jun 14, 2013 12:19PM
This spud's for you. Just pay cash and meet me out back. I grow them everywhere.
Jun 14, 2013 12:48PM
we lack the will to band together in the numbers that would make the boycott work. Lets face it alot of sheep here in the west things happen here that would fill the streets with rage in the east with barely a wimper here in the west. They know this, will we turn the tables ? or are we afraid of getting salt on te floor?
Jun 14, 2013 12:32PM

I notice that a little box of instant mashed potatoes cost more than $3.00. This is the same price that the huge box cost 2 years ago. To make matters worse, the stores I buy from are IGA. But here lately in the South, they been having a potato war. I did buy that 20 lb bag of russet potatoes for $2.99. I wonder if you were a farmer and you planted your own potatoes, what would be said?

Speaking of gardens, mine is nice, I have to go buy vinegar to put up cucumbers and peppers. Yes, I can some of my food. I also freeze some too. I getting a gallon of ice cream today for $2.99. I have a $3.00 off any IGA product.


Jun 14, 2013 12:48PM
They will go after the potato grower but not the oil companies. It would not fit Obama's agenda for solar energy if we had cheap oil would it.
Jun 14, 2013 12:41PM
People have the power to boycott, it'll hurt them on the bottom line.  Especially on product that will spoil if not sold.  Everybosy stop buying potato, milk... etc for 2 weeks and we'll see who end up crying foul.
Jun 14, 2013 1:04PM
Potatoes are not expensive, processed potato products are....should take on the processors 
Jun 14, 2013 12:43PM

No matter how valid the claim, the suit against potato growing OPEC won't succeed in ANY Idaho court.  Judges are just hired whores for corporate America, more especially EVERY judge in the federal bankruptcy system.


Corruption pervades our government, but especially the courts.   Cops, prosecutors and judges are the most vile, despicable, violent, and corrupted in our society -- cops doing their MOB justice against helpless, poor, drunk, or those otherwise unable to defend themselves; prosecutors ignoring evidence that lends toward innocence while falsifying evidence, planting evidence, lying to the jury, and so on in order to increase convictions so they are faux-qualified to become a judge; Judges -- ALL OF THEM -- the worst whores of society, mock justice, fend for corporate cheats-greedmongers-liars and agitate/conspire against the working class, working poor, and poor.  


This POTATO case will be just one more in another shenanigan perpetrated against the poor of America by the phony owners of "Our"  JUSTICE SYSTEM.

Jun 14, 2013 1:13PM

There is only one solution to all of the gouging, price fixing etc. STOP..... don't use gas, don't buy from thieves, eg. the milk cartels, banks etc. Minimize the use and exposure to everything until they are drowning in their goods they have.  Stop demand and watch the prices tumble.

But  as usual the idiots will grumble and moan and keep on paying. 

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