Global French Fry Trade Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

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Crinkle cut french fries
Photo: Pixabay

Around the world people are eating more french fries, even more than they ate before the pandemic, the Sept. 23 issue of the North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says.

The second quarter of 2021 hit record levels for french fry trade, with the sales volumes beating 2019 levels by 128 million lbs. The 10 major exporting national shipped a total of 2.3 billion lbs of frozen potato products to countries outside their local trading zones, the report says. This was up from 2020 sales by 51.4 per cent.

“French fry processors have been challenged to manage rapid demand recovery in conjunction with COVID-19 labour related issues, raw-product supply constraints, and logistical issues,” the report notes.

In North America, exports to offshore markets jumped 56.3 per cent. This includes 559 million lbs from the United States and 79 million lbs from Canada, however shipments were 5.1 per cent below the 2019 volume.

In the European Union, the top five french fry exporters shipped a combined 1.50 billion lbs of product during the second quarter, a 52.6 per cent increase. Argentina and China also posted large percentage increases, while New Zealand’s exports declined, the report notes.

Future French Fry Outlook

The outlook for global french fry trade over the next year is uncertain, NAPM says. It notes the North American exporter’s ability to maintain market share may be limited until the 2022 potato harvest, due to raw-product supply limitations from the drought.

“European fryers may be in a better position, though their supplies also may be down from last year. Underlying demand for french fries remains strong, but the pandemic is a significant market risk.”

While demand for french fries has overall rebounded and exceeded 2019 levels in 60 per cent of the major importing countries/regions, purchases remain below pre-pandemic volumes in 12 regions.

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