The U.S. Potato Board is working to expand fresh potato exports, and several new markets are now accepting table stock shipments, according to John Toaspern, vice president of international marketing.
“Working together with the National Potato Council and state organizations we have provided extensive assistance and support to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as they work to open new markets. This process can take many years,” he said.
“On the very short side, we were able to open up Vietnam and the Philippines in three years,” Toaspern said.
In July, the Philippines opened its borders to fresh potato shipments from the U.S. Previously, only chipping potatoes were allowed, according to a news release.
The first shipments were expected to arrive in November or December this year, said Sarah Reece, the board’s international marketing manager.
Japan, Panama and Taiwan have expanded imports of fresh potatoes from the U.S. in the past few years.
The board also has invested time in long-term efforts.
“On the long side, we have been working to open up China for over 15 years and have made very little progress,” Toaspern said.
Several factors can cause delays, but often it’s simply a government hesitation to bring in a product that can be locally grown.
“Given that potatoes are grown in most countries around the world and that the product being exported can technically be planted in the foreign country, governments are extremely cautious when it comes to fresh potato access,” Toaspern said.
Even though shipping point inspections can ensure potato shipments don’t pose risks to the importing country, progress can still be slow, he said.