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Canadian Potato Stocks Rise on Reduced Pandemic Demand

As the pandemic reduces demand for potato products Canadian potato holdings are at 32.25 million cwt as of May 1, which is 13.1 per cent higher than last year, the May 13 issue of North American Potato Market News says. On April 1, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba were the only provinces with more potatoes in storage than they held a year earlier, by May 1 though, British Columbia was the only province with less potatoes in storage.

April potato disappearance fell by 2.82 million cwt less than 2019, a 24.3 per cent decline, marking the lowest potato usage level since 2006, the report notes.

“While the downturn affected all industry sectors, it was paced by a 33.8 per cent decline in processing use (including chip potatoes). Factors other that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic were at work reducing movement of seed and table potatoes.”

Canada had 3.79 million cwt of table potatoes left in storage as of May 1, the report says. In provinces with french fry production capacity, processing potato inventories fell by 3.71 million cwt, 34.8 per cent less than last year. The actual decline in french fry production would have been much larger at around 50 per cent, the report notes.

May 1 chip potato inventories in Ontario and Quebec were at 1.35 million cwt, 220,000 cwt more than a year ago. “Nevertheless, at the April usage rate those potatoes would be cleaned up before the end of June. Manufacturers probably will need to import more chip potatoes than they have under contract, as a result of strong usage,” the report says.

Seed potato stocks also rose, marking a 978,000 cwt increase compared to last year. Processing contract volume reductions in both Canada and the United States, has made it difficult to sell seed, the report notes.

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