Hot potatoes: U.S. fresh exports set record - The Packer

Hot potatoes: U.S. fresh exports set record

09/14/2011 03:41:00 PM
Coral Beach

Courtesy U.S. Potato BoardExports of U.S. potatoes and potato products set records in fiscal 2010-11 year, increasing 15% in value and 11% in volume, according to the U.S. Potato Board.

The Denver-based board announced the statistics Sept. 14, saying the increase represents a fresh-weight equivalent of more than 59 million cwt. of fresh potatoes. That means about 16% of the total U.S. potato production was exported, according to a USPB news release.

In dollars and pounds, U.S. potato exports totaled $1.35 billion and almost 1.4 million metric tons.

Fresh potato exports were up 34% in value, hitting $186 million, a 14% volume increase to about 400,000 metric tons. Export volume of fresh potatoes to Mexico dropped 10%, but still increased 13% in value because of high U.S. prices.

Frozen potato products are the largest category, accounting for 60% of the dollar value. Japan is the largest market for frozen potato products from the U.S., and despite that country’s economic problems in recent years exports have increased 43% from fiscal 2007 to fiscal 2011.

Dehydrated potato exports remain third in value, but are the second largest export by fresh weight equivalent volume at 16 million cwt. Their value rose 11% to $173 million.

The U.S. Potato Board’s International Marketing Program Long Range Plan for fiscal 2012-16 targets more than 20 markets in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

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Matt Metz    
Grand Rapids Ohio  |  September, 18, 2011 at 08:12 PM

Domestic crop yield drops, therefore prices go up across the board on potatoes at retail in the US. Is this information supposed to set well with US retailers who are fighting all time high inflationary rates on most produce commodities? It is a great responsibility to supply the rest of the world with food one our countries farmers and suppliers take seriously. But to have a record increase on exports while demanding our citizenry to pay higher prices or expect our retailers/wholesalers to take less in gross dollars is a line of reason I do not understand.

B White    
Denver, CO  |  September, 23, 2011 at 07:50 AM

Matt raises an unusual question that demonstrates a lack of understanding of the farmer's role in selling farm commodities. If Matt is loking for charity by growers, he needs to research the difference between a 501(c)(3) non profit and a "For Profit" business. Unfortunately, I am at a loss to understand exactly what he is concerned about. The American farmer needs to earn enough money to stay in business or the US consumer will not be able to continue to enjoy abundant supplies of quality, inexpensive food. The average farmer, particularly a potato grower, needs access to all potential markets, anywhere in the world. Matt's statement "to have a record increase on exports while demanding our citizenry to pay higher prices or expect our retailers/wholesalers to take less in gross dollars is a line of reason (sic) I do not understand" is very confusing. First, farmers do not have the ability to "demand" that consumers pay higher prices. The consumer determines the acceptable price. When consumers decide that the price is "too high" they cut back or cut off their buying. Second, his comment about "expecting" retailers and wholesalers to take less in gross dollars implies again that the growers have some magical powers over their customers, ie: the brokers, large grocery chains and processors that actually buy from the growers. It just doesn't work that way. Matt seem to have no understanding of the free market factors that operate in our economy. Bottom line - potato growers, as all farmers, need access to all markets, domestic and offfshore. Prices will be determined by the consumers, not the growers. If offshore buyers place a higher value on American produce than the American consumer does, exports will increase. If the reverse occurs, exports will decrease.

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