( File photo )

U.S. potato growers shipped 34% more fresh potatoes to Canada from July through September, but they were not destined to be sold as fresh, according to a quarterly report from Potatoes USA.

Most were sent to Canadian processors to be turned into frozen products, such as French fries, according to the promotion group’s first-quarter 2019-20 report.

Overall exports of fresh potatoes saw a 17% increase when compared to the same period last year, mostly due to the bump in shipments to Canada. The value of the exports was lower, with a 13% increase for the quarter, to $77.69 million, according to Potatoes USA.

Mexico, which is the U.S. potato industry’s second-largest market behind Canada, saw fresh sales dip 13%. Potatoes USA attributed the drop to higher prices in the U.S., with Mexico being a “price-sensitive market.”

Fresh potatoes exported to chip processors also saw significant gains during the quarter, with increases of 14% to Japan, 60% to Malaysia, 83% to Thailand and 88% to Vietnam, according to the Potatoes USA report. South Korea’s large domestic crop led to a 90% drop in exports for table-stock and chip-stock potatoes.

Potatoes USA included information on categories in the report:

Frozen: Volume increased 9% and value went up 10%, with large gains in exports to the Middle East, the Philippines and Central America. China, which has a 15% tariff on frozen U.S. potato products, had a 4% decline in imports.
Dehydrated: Exports grew 18% in volume and 22% in value, led by an increase of 25% increase to Japan. China’s tariffs had a bigger effect on U.S. dehydrated potato exports, with a 31% decline.

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