Potato stocks in Canada are up 26 per cent compared to last Feb. 1 with most of the increase being in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, the latest numbers from Statistics Canada say.
“What began as a P.E.I. issue on Nov. 22 when the United States border was closed to their potatoes, has become a Canadian issue, backing up supply across many parts of the country,” a news release on the numbers from the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) says.
Quebec and Ontario also have larger inventories of potatoes in storage, with British Columbia and Alberta recording stock declines of five per cent compared to their three-year averages.
Regional supply issues are creating challenges for both processors and table potato interests, the Feb. 10 issue of the North American Potato Market News (NAPM) notes. Frozen processing supplies are limited for Manitoba and Alberta with imports from the eastern provinces being required to keep plants running.
“On the other hand, the Maritime provinces have a surplus of table and processing potatoes. Trucking and logistical issues have made it extremely difficult and expensive to move potatoes where they are needed this year,” NAPM says.
Canada’s January potato disappearance exceeded year earlier movement by 1.19 million cwt. All of the provinces except P.E.I. reported increased usage during the month, NAPM notes.
Fresh potato holdings in Canada are up with 17 million hundred weight (cwt) in storage. With the U.S. and Puerto Rico borders having been closed to P.E.I. potatoes, storages have swelled with availability only to Canadian markets, UPGC notes. Stocks in the four Eastern provinces are 74 per cent above three year averages.
“The 12 weeks lost due to the border closure, has significantly reduced available packing days forcing P.E.I. growers to destroy their excess holdings. Island growers have committed to doing this in the month of February, which should start to bring stocks back in line by next month’s release,” UPGC says.
Canadian fry plants used 22.5 per cent more potatoes during January than they used the previous year, however stocks are still 15 per cent above the three-year average. Plants have ramped up production to keep up with strong export demand.
Seed inventory is up 7.6 per cent from last year at 9.70 million cwt. UPGC notes the largest increases in seed stocks are in Alberta, followed by New Brunswick and Quebec. Available seed in British Columbia is down 12 per cent. with growers preparing to plant early potatoes by the end of February.
“P.E.I. seed stocks are down 23 per cent as growers unsure of their future markets, shipped some crop through other channels,” UPGC notes.