Canada has almost 80 million hundredweight (cwt) of potatoes in storage as of Jan. 1, a Jan. 17 report from the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) says. This is 20 per cent above three-year averages.
The report notes Eastern Canada is is the largest contributor to the increase as there was a large crop harvested in the four eastern provinces.
“Also compounding the stocks increase is an embargo on P.E.I. potatoes preventing them from being shipped to the United States since November 22nd. The Canadian market has not been able to handle the additional volume domestically,” the report says.
Fresh potato holdings are 50 per cent above the three-year average 19.405 million cwt. The report notes all provinces except for Manitoba, which was affected by hot, dry weather, have recorded increases in fresh stocks. Eastern Canada recorded a 63 per cent increase in stocks, with Prince Edward Island fresh stocks almost double historical levels with an additional 4,000,000 hundred weight in storage.
“The United States closed their border (and that of Puerto Rico) to P.E.I. potatoes on November 22 creating a large back up in the supply chain.”
Processing potato holdings are 15 per cent above the three-year average with Eastern Canadian processors not requiring large amounts of imports.
“Processing capacity has increased in Canada and fryers are running hard to keep up with export demand. December usage is up almost 40 per cent compared to the previous year.”
Processing plants in Alberta have been running lighter due to reduced supply, UPGC says. Manitoba will need to continue imports to supplement their needs throughout the year. While chip stocks are higher in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and P.E.I.
Seed inventory in Canada is above three-year averages. UPGC notes increased inventory in Ontario indicates newer entrants into the industry. Alberta is reporting an increase of 12 per cent, Quebec is up 15 per cent, and New Brunswick 14 per cent. British Columbia is recording a decline of 13 per cent.
“The largest decline is in Prince Edward Island where growers observed the restriction placed on their exports by the United States, and diverted some of their stocks to processing, rather than destroying them.”