b'POTATO CONSUMPTION REBOUND PUTS SQUEEZEON REDUCED ACRESPotato acres across Canada are expected to be down for 2020,due to contract volume cuts in March as the pandemic lockdownhit North America.BY: SHEL ZOLKEWICHAFTER A THREE-MONTH long rollercoaster ride for the potato industry,but it was too late for growers to add more acres for the 2020 production theres good news on the horizon.year though. The rebound is happening faster than anyone anticipated, Kevin Ma- Mother Nature is now in charge. If we have an excellent yield this year, cIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), saysthe market may be able to shorten that gap and make up for the decrease in a phone interview. We thought we would have far too many potatoes in thein acres planted, MacIsaac says. If yields are in line for historic numbers, market and now, the opposite is happening in many areas. manufacturers and buyers will need to do a bit of a balancing act to ensure MacIsaac explains french fry manufacturers in particular are frantic tothere are enough potatoes to meet all market including processing, table buy stock from growers to meet the rapidly increasing demand as pandemic(fresh) and chips.restrictions begin to lift and more people head out to restaurants.Its been particularly tough for growers who have had to deal with incon-While the rebound is encouraging news for the long-term future of thesistencies in the market, MacIsaac says. They saw contracts cut in January industry, production for the 2020 crop year will likely be down significantly and February and then highs and lows since then.this simply came down to unfortunate timing.Regionally, Alberta may take the biggest hit. They are typically first to We wont know the exact numbers until the Statistics Canada results areplant in the country and many contracts were cut deeply while they were released in July, but we can say that were at least down by 10,000 acres,planting. MacIsaac thinks there could be a 25 per cent reduction in produc-MacIsaac says. In 2019, Canadian growers planted 362,000 acres.tion there. Meanwhile, Quebec may fare much better thanks to a strong chip The reason for the reduction was a glut in the market early in the pandem- industry along with good fresh potato sales. ic. Manufacturers cut their contracts with growers as crops were on the vergeThe demand for chips continues to grow. Sales are up 22 per cent and of being planted. In the last week of June, the market ticked up significantly,show no signs of decreasing, he says. 10 SPUDSMART.COM SUMMER 2020'