There are 1.2 per cent less potatoes in Canadian storages as of May 1 compared to a year ago, a May 10 news release from the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) said. While the number is down from a year ago, it is above the three-year average.
“There were fresh shippers in both Canada and the U.S. that noticed a slow-down in sales after the Easter holiday in April, which bears out when we look at the disappearance figures by sector where we saw a decrease in movement in the fresh sector when compared to movement in April of last year,” UPGC said.
The release noted the larger shipments were in processing, up nine per cent over April last year, and seed, up 75.2 per cent from last year, were most likely due to a warmer and drier spring with producers pulling seed earlier as they’re on-time for planting this year compared to last.
The release is based on numbers from Statistics Canada. Growers overall shipped 12.8 million cwt of potatoes from storage in April, up 11.6 million cwt from March and 16.7 per cent higher than April last year. The bulk of this increase came from the seed sector.
“In fresh many benefitted from good demand in April leading up to Easter but saw a slight decline the last two weeks of April, with shipments for the month overall down compared to March for all provinces except New Brunswick, Ontario and Alberta.”
The release noted that other than Quebec and Manitoba, all provinces showed less movement of potatoes in the processing sector. All provinces noted moderate to good movement of seed as growers prepared for planting, with particularly large movement out of Alberta.
There’s currently 5.7 million cwt fo fresh potatoes in Canada, down 9.8 per cent from last year but still well above the three-year average, the release said. There were 2.5 million cwt of fresh potatoes shipped in April which is a 27.2 per cent decrease from March shipments.
Planting has started in all provinces for fresh potatoes, with some further along than others. The release noted planting is going at a much better pace for British Columbia, Manitoba and New Brunswick compared to last year’s cold and rainy spring.
Stocks of processing sector potatoes in Canada are up 1.6 per cent over last year, however there was a larger crop to start the season, the release noted. Shipments have been outpacing last year by 5.7 per cent based on average shipments per month from December through April and there have been a total of 36,191 million cwt shipped in that time — 1.9 million cwt more than during the same period last year.
“Demand from processors, impacted by the continued increase in global demand for frozen fries as well as catching up from shortages last summer, is keeping the movement strong in this sector. At the current average pace of shipments we would estimate stocks to be completely moved over the next three months, taking the sector into August or longer, depending on how the processors pull out of storage.”
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