Business Markets & Pricing Maritimes Drags Down Canadian Potato Stocks

Maritimes Drags Down Canadian Potato Stocks

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Potato stocks in Canada were down 7.4 per cent compared to last year as of Feb. 1 with the Maritimes leading the drop, the Feb. 10 issue of North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says. Stocks were also down in Quebec and Alberta, declines were partly offset by increases in Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia.

Canada had 55.34 million cwt of potatoes on Feb. 1, 4.44 million cwt less than last year. In the Maritimes stocks were down 21.9 per cent. NAPM notes intended use data is showing this year’s stock reduction is distributed fairly evenly across the major industry sectors, but regional differences show the downturn in processing supplies is focused on frozen not chip potatoes.

In the Prairies they have a record large table potato inventory, with stocks up 38.7 per cent at 1.34 million cwt. Alberta is moving its table potatoes rapidly, but supplies appear to be backing up in Manitoba, the report notes.

NAPM says Canadian french fry plans will need to slow production in order to stretch out available supplies until the 2021 harvest starts. Processing inventories in provinces with fry production capacity were down 9.9 per cent from last year.

“Though Alberta had the best inventory position at harvest, it has chewed through its supplies quickly. Fryers are taking advantage of the supply shortfall to take production lines down for needed maintenance and upgrades.”

Meanwhile chip potato supplies are up from last year in Ontario and Quebec. This may help partially offset the lower inventories in the Maritimes, the report notes.

“While observers believe that all of the potatoes will be needed, their use may come at the expense of early chip potato imports from the U.S.”

Canada seed potato supplies are down 6.7 per cent from last year, with supplies particularly tight in the Maritime provinces due to last year’s drought.