Canadian Potato Supply Drops

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Potato sorting
Potatoes are sorted on a farm before shipment. Photo: Eugenia Banks

Potatoes in storage across Canada are down compared to historical averages, the latest potato holdings statistics from Statistics Canada show. According to the stats, which were analyzed by the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), total holdings as of April 1 are at 38,037,000 per hundred weight (cwt), which is nine per cent below the three-year average.

If you look at stats for last year at this time, stocks were down 4.5 per cent from the three-year average. This means there were deeper supply reductions for the 2020 growing season than there was a year ago, UPGC points out. These are the lowest potato holdings numbers since 2011.

Fresh potato stocks are down 4.4 per cent from the three year average. The bulk of that drop is from Prince Edward Island, UPGC says. However while New Brunswick saw a similar growing season reductions as P.E.I., they are reporting stocks above three-year averages.

“It appears packers may have buffered their fresh supply with table potatoes imported last fall. Canadian stocks of table potatoes are still below April 1st of last year, a time when fresh demand was exceptional as consumers stockpiled for the weeks leading up to, and during isolation from the pandemic,” UPGC says in a note on the potato holdings numbers.

Processing potato stocks are down 10.6 per cent from the three-year average at 25.1 million cwt. New Brunswick, Alberta and P.E.I. are all recording declines in raw product available for processing. Fryers have managed the supply shortfalls by having factory down time and importing some spuds. Manitoba’s increase in holdings is due to having a better production year than in years past, while Ontario’s rise is caused by chip contracts.

Seed inventory in the country is also down, recording a 6.6 per cent drop from the three-year average at 7,071,000 cwt, the UPGC notes. Many areas are sold out of seed, but demand has slowed down with growers still awaiting final processing contract numbers.

“Manitoba is showing the largest increase in seed stocks and all of that seed will be needed to plant the crop in that province. Alberta has moved a significant portion of their seed crop but is above three-year average levels on April 1st. Provinces with seed stocks below historical include New Brunswick, British Columbia, Quebec, and Prince Edward Island.”

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