( Courtesy ProSource Inc. )

Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines are the top five export market for Idaho potatoes, according to the Eagle-based Idaho Potato Commission. 

Markets in Central America, the Caribbean and Hong Kong round out the top 10.

U.S. potato and potato product exports have been on a growth trajectory in recent years, having risen 4.58% in volume and 4.63% in value in 2017 compared to 2016, for example, according to the Denver-based promotion group Potatoes USA

Fresh potato exports were up 6% in 2017 while frozen and chip exports were up 1%, according to a Potatoes USA news release.

In those years, according to a fresh weight equivalent measure, about 20% of U.S. potato output was exported, Potatoes USA said.

Exports of all U.S. potatoes and potato products reached a record $1.76 billion for the July 2016 to June 2017 marketing year.

Interest continues to grow across the export market for U.S., as well as Idaho, potatoes, said Corey Griswold, COO of Hailey, Idaho-based grower-shipper ProSource Inc. 

“We are experiencing a lot of interest in a variety of export markets right now,” he said. “Mexico, Central. America and the Pacific Rim are all active buyers.”

Smaller carton counts, with sizes 80-100 in the russet varieties, are the top choice, Griswold said.

Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Wada Farms Marketing Group also sees increased interest in the export market, said Eric Beck, marketing director for the grower-shipper.

“We continue to see linear growth and interest from export markets,” Beck said. 

“Singapore leads the pack with the most growth, followed by other Asian markets. There tends to be no preference as it pertains to potato varieties, but we do see more demand for smaller profile potatoes.”

The Idaho Potato Commission follows the lead of Potatoes USA in marketing spuds internationally, said Ross Johnson, international marketing director with the commission.

The commission focuses on markets being developed by Potatoes USA, and it aligns its strategies with U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded programs, Johnson said. 

“Exports are important to the Idaho potato industry as yields continue to increase each year and all forms are experiencing high demand,” Johnson said. 

“Export markets love fresh, frozen and dehydrated Idaho potatoes, and exports continue to increase each year.”

In 2018, three fresh Idaho shippers worked with the commission in an effort to “increase their understanding of export opportunities,” and the commission anticipates their participation in the upcoming crop year,” Johnson said. 

“The Idaho Potato Commission will continue to focus marketing efforts on increasing shipments to Latin America and Asia,” he said.