Global trade of french fries fell 7.7 per cent as of Oct. 31, 2020 with the pandemic having caused an uneven impact throughout the year, the Jan. 20 issue of North American Potato Market News (NAPM) says.
Between October 2019 and February 2020, prior to the explosion of the pandemic, global trade was running 11 per cent ahead of the year-earlier pace, the report notes. Sales then started to slow during March, but were only down 1.7 per cent for the month. From April through July, global trade fell 26.5 per cent short of the 2019 pace, and then August through October the decline was only 8.4 per cent.
However, NAPM notes the rebound in sales may be stalling. Major exporting countries only sold 0.2 per cent more frozen product to customers outside their local tradition zones in September. As COVID-19 cases grew in October, exports fell 12.6% short of the 2019 pace.
Between exporting regions, the pandemic impact has varied substantially, the report says. In North America exporters saw a 16.6 per cent drop in offshore sales. In the same period, the European Union experienced only a 4.5 per cent drop in external exports. Argentine had a 6.7 per cent decline and New Zealand fell 16.8 per cent. While China is a small player, its exports almost quadrupled.
American imports of fries has expanded though, with imports increasing by 60.9 per cent. Most importers cut back on french fry purchases though with Brazilian imports only increasing 14.2 per cent and Taiwan rising 7.3 per cent, the report notes.
“The outlook for global french fry trade during the next 12 months is clouded by uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. The North American exporters ability to recapture market share may be limited until the 2021 potato harvest is under way, due to supply limitations. Europe has abundant supplies of potatoes. Underlying demand for french fries remains strong, but the resurgence of COVID-19 could derail any rebound in sales until it is brought under control.”