French fry processors in Canada used 47.7 million cwt of potatoes during the year ending May 31, 2020 — 3.8 per cent less than they used last year during the same time frame, the July 15 issue of North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says.
The report notes Canadian fry processing was supposed to increase last year as fryers added close to 700 million pounds of new production capacity, however the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted demand and production during April and May.
“Fry plants had been importing raw product until March, and processors had anticipated a supply shortfall during the summer months. However, due to the pandemic they cut off imports during April and May.”
It unlikely Canadian fry plants will have to use United States potatoes during the 2020/21 processing season, the report says. Some storage potatoes have crossed the border in recent weeks but fryers are now beginning to realize U.S. plants will likely need all of the potatoes they have under contract along with any extra they can find.
Canadian packers are estimated to have used used 47.7 million cwt of potatoes between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020, a 3.8 per cent decline compared to the year before. This estimate is based on exports which fell six per cent, along with estimates for domestic French Fry production and frozen product inventory changes.
Also noted is that data on Canadian french fry production is limited as international trade data is the only publicly available information. “We have a rough idea of the country’s processing capacity, which sets an upper limit to the amount of product that can be produced. However, we must make a number of assumptions in order to construct a balance sheet.”
Chip potato storage is believed to have been all used up, the report notes. As of July 1, Ontario still had 168,000 cwt of potatoes left in storage, but those potatoes should have been gone by July 11. U.S. potatoes are being imported to bridge the gap until local harvest starts.