Manitoba May Fall Short on Spud Supply for Fries

Potato field
Photo: Pixabay

Potato growers in Manitoba may not be able to produce enough potatoes to keep french fry processors running close to capacity, the May 5 issue of North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says.

In the April 28 issue NAPM estimated Manitoba’s harvested potato acreage at 78,000 acres for the 2021 growing season, which would be what is needed to run the province’s processing plants at 90 to 95 per cent capacity. However, local observers have told NAPM that won’t be possible as there isn’t enough available ground or equipment.

“They suggest that the actual area could fall 5,000 acres or more short of our projection. If so, fryers may need to continue buying potatoes from other growing areas,” the report says.

That extra supply may not be able to made up by other areas though with early reports saying processing growers are trying to limit open-market exposure this year, the report notes.

U.S. Potato Shipments

Potato exports for March in the United States were ahead of last year by 99,000 cwt, up 15.6 per cent, NAPM says. Export sales increased for fresh potatoes, frozen potato products, dehydrated potato products and potato chips.

A record 1.05 million cwt of fresh potatoes were exported in March from the U.S. — a 33.1 per cent increase. March exports of french fries and other frozen products were the second largest ever for the month, the report says.

“At 215.0 million lbs, frozen product exports increased 12.5 per cent from last year, suggesting that global demand may be rebounding.”

March dehydrated potato exports were also up, marking an increase of 12.7 per cent. Potato chip exports were up 21.9 per cent from last year for the month.

For the first quarter of 2021, U.S. fresh potato exports rose 6.1 per cent. Strong sales to countries other than Canada and South Korea drove the increase. Increased sales to Canada during March were not enough to offset slower movement earlier in the quarter, the report notes.

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