The United States exported nearly US$348 million worth of potatoes and potato products to Japan in 2018, making the Asian nation the number one overseas market for U.S. potatoes, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service report.
Japan is a major importer of cooked and prepared frozen products, with the U.S. accounting for nearly 70 per cent of Japan’s total imports annually. Japan’s market for U.S. potato products is strong with increasing in popularity for the spud as a side-dish. Favoured for their reliable quality, uniform size, and white color, U.S. frozen french fries lead all potato export product categories.
The report notes in 2017 Japan lifted a 10-year ban on imports of chipping potatoes from Idaho. There are no regional or seasonal restrictions though on imports of processed potatoes, such as frozen french fries, though. U.S. table stock potatoes are not currently eligible for export to Japan.
As of Feb. 14, American chipping potatoes will be allowed to enter Japan year-round, according to a news release from the National Potato Council. Previously, the U.S. was limited to shipping chipping potatoes to Japan only during Feb. 1 to July 30 each year.