b'MARKETNEWS The surplus of spuds created by the COVID-19 pandemic closures will affect the potato market well into the fall.THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC significantly impacted the Canadian potato market, with fresh potato sales taking off while the service industry closures caused french fry demand to plunge. While de- KEVIN MACISAACmand is starting to rebound, the pandemic effects will continue to be felt for months. We think itll come back reasonably well.Potato holdings figures released in June byI think the big unknown for us in the the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC)industry is at what level will it come back to. provided a clear picture of the lasting effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.Fresh potato stocks were down 13.9 per cent on June 1 from the previous three-year average.that on the processing side, that they are notsubstantially, and chip sales were also strong as Processing potato stocks, on the other hand,going to be able to take the out-of-field deliveriespeople stayed at home to consume their favorite increased by almost the same amount14.4to the level that they used to, because they expectpotato snacks.per centwhile seed potato holdings were up atheres still going to be using old crop out ofAccording to MacIsaac, fresh potato sales in whopping 120.6 per cent.the storages until September or perhaps evenCanada rose by as much as 55 per cent at the The UPGC pegged the total potato storageOctober. start of the pandemic. As of mid-June, they were holdings in Canada at 20.8 million hundredweightAccording to MacIsaac, french fry sales to foodstill up by 15 per cent from the same time in 2019.on June 1, up 13.0 per cent from the previousservice outlets dropped more than 50 per cent inInterviewed in mid-June, Missouri-based three-year average. Canada at the start of the pandemic. There wasRabobank analyst Stephen Nicholson, says the In the United States, figures released by thea gradual improvement after that, but as of mid- potato market trends in the U.S. closely resemble U.S. Department of Agriculture showed total potatoJune, sales were still down 25 to 30 per cent fromthose in Canada during the pandemic.stocks were at 67 million hundredweight on Junecompared to last year.Were still seeing good demand at the retail 1a four per cent drop from the 70.4 millionWe think itll come back reasonably well. Ilevel for table potatoes and frozen potato prod-hundredweight of potatoes in storage last year. think the big unknown for us in the industry is atucts, he says. Nicholson notes in some areas, Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of thewhat level will it come back to, said MacIsaac.processing acres were slashed by as much as 50 UPGC, told Spud Smart in mid-June he expects theUnsurprisingly, export sales of frozen potatoper cent as a result of contracting cuts. surplus of processing spuds in Canada caused byproducts took a big hit at the start of pandemic. French fry sales are slowly bouncing back COVID-19 to affect potato deliveries this fall.Much of our export goes to places like Chinaas restaurants and other food service venues We basically have July and the middle part ofand Japan, and it takes a while for those countriesreopen, Nicholson says. However, there is still a August for what we would normally consider to beto come back as well, McIsaac explains. Exportsgreat amount of uncertainty surrounding future usage of old crop potatoes to make french fries.have been slow and will continue to be slow, butdemand.Normally, the factories would start taking new cropsits on the right side of the curve. For more coverage on the pandemic and its ef-around the end of August, certainly by Sept. 1, andMacIsaac notes the news wasnt all bad forfects on the potato market please visit our website arrange out-of-field deliveries, MacIsaac says.the processing sector during the pandemic. Gro- at SpudSmart.com. MARK HALSALLA lot of the factories have advised growerscery store sales of frozen potato products jumped Potato Holdings in Canada as of June 1, 2020ComparedComparedComparedCompared to 3-yearto 3-yearto 3-yearto 3-year Province Fresh Average (%) Processing Average (%) Seed Average (%) Total Average (%)Prince Edward Island 845 4.7 4,900 11.8 293 2,564.0 6,038 16.1New Brunswick 160 -68.1 2,451 3.3 180 -2.2 2,791 -8.7Quebec 781 9.1 848 17.8 87 35.9 1,716 16.1Ontario 81 -31.4 560 3.1 1 -50.0 642 -3.2Manitoba 186 -20.9 3,722 0.7 11 1,100.0 3,919 -0.3Alberta 0 -100.0 5,376 37.2 250 113.7 5,626 38.8British Columbia 28 33.3 84 4.9 56 180.0 84 4.9Total Canada 2,081 -13.9 17,857 14.4 878 120.6 20,816 13.0SOURCE: UNITED POTATO GROWERS OF CANADA40 SPUDSMART.COM SUMMER 2020'