BusinessMarkets & PricingCanada Potato Stocks Up 3.1 Per cent as of April 1

Canada Potato Stocks Up 3.1 Per cent as of April 1


Potatoes in Canadian storages are up 3.1 per cent as of April 1 compared to last year, an April 13 news release from the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) said. Potato storage holdings are well over the three year average for the month of April.

The release is based on numbers from Statistics Canada and show there were 11.6 million cwt of potatoes shipped from storage in March 2023. This is up 10.1 million cwt from February and on track with March 2022 numbers. It’s 16 per cent higher than the five-year average for March disappearance though.

“In the fresh sector, many benefitted from good demand in March leading up to St Patrick’s Day and Easter in early April, with shipments for the month up compared to February for all provinces except Ontario and Alberta,” UPGC said.

Besides Quebec and Manitoba, all provinces showed increased movement of potatoes in the processing sector for March over February, UPGC noted. Quebec, Ontario and Alberta saw a large jump in shipments of seed potatoes for the month compared to last, which isn’t surprising due to growers starting to prepare for planting.

The report said fresh potato holdings were down 7.2 per cent compared to last year but above previous years due to increases in the initial crop in the East. There were 3.4 million cwt of fresh potatoes shipped during March, up from the 2.6 million cwt in February.

“Concerns about sluggish movement of red potatoes in certain areas of the country early in the year seem to have dissipated with the increased shipments in March and continued high exports to the U.S.,” the report said.

There is overall tightness in the North American potato market with fryers and dehydrators buying from the fresh potato market throughout the year. UPGC noted many are now focusing on stocks and the forecasted transition to new crop later in the summer.

“Although Florida came to market early with a good crop, the cold and rainy weather in California impacting yields and sizing, as well as emergence delayed in the Columbia Basin, have created some concern that early crops may not be there to carry the old crop into the new if demand keeps at the current pace; weather in the next few weeks will certainly be a determining factor, including for planting in many areas,” UPGC said.

In the processing market, 7.7 million cwt of potatoes were moved in March which is an increase of 11 per cent over February. The largest increase in month over month happened in Alberta, while Quebec and Manitoba saw decreased movement, the report noted.

“We continue to see a tight market on processing potatoes, with most provinces showing a decrease when comparing 2022/23 and 2021/22 holdings at the same period, other than Alberta who are still showing increased holdings of processing potatoes which is not surprising due to the increase planted acreage and production this season,” UPGC noted.

UPGC said that in order for processing plants to continue running at capacity there are still strong exports from the United States happening and from east to west from both processing and fresh storages. Contract negotiations are continuing across North America with only the Columbia Basin done as they negotiated last fall. UPGC noted growers are hesitant to commit to acreage without contract pricing in place to cover ever increasing input costs.

Seed levels nationally are up 14.1 per cent and 14.9 per cent over the three year average. UPGC noted this is interesting as stock levels in March were only nine per cent above historic levels which points to slow seed shipping movement.

“With cold weather and a lot of snow still on the ground in most of the country, combined with the tight seed market this year, may be causing the slower movement of seed this season. Without contracts negotiated in the processing sector as well, growers have most likely booked seed due to a tight market but may not have shipped yet until they have acreage confirmed,” the report said.

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