Published: Wed, December 04, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Poor Potato Crops Could Lead to a North American French Fry Shortage

Poor Potato Crops Could Lead to a North American French Fry Shortage

Experts reportedly fear that America may experience a French fry shortage, but Voigt argues against that notion. Crops were down three percent in the autumn season alone, which, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada, "is one of the lowest crops on record".

The 2019 USA potato crop is estimated to be down by about 3 billion pounds compared to past year - that's a 6.1% decrease, the lowest since 2010 and one of the lowest on record, says a report from the United Potato Growers of Canada.

Frosts stunted the growth of the long potatoes which are preferable for making French fries, and retailers are importing foreign stocks to make up for it.

It said potato production for the 2019 crop year was forecast at 22.4 million tons, down 6% from the prior year.

Back in November, the United States Department of Agriculture predicted that production outputs from the country's top nine potato producing states will fall 6.1 percent in 2019.

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The potential shortage is a "manageable situation", Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, tells Robinson.

Potato prices are expected to rise due to the smaller potato supply.

In other words, there may be no greater gift this year than asking someone: "Do you want fries with that?" Then you better start stocking up on potatoes.

And the potato problems pair particularly poorly with an increasing demand for fries in Canada, home of poutine (a comforting dish of fries and cheese curds topped with gravy), as Northerners take more and more to the deep-fried side dish.

Bloomberg reports it's likely potato prices could soon climb across North America, according to Stephen Nicholson, a senior grains and oilseeds analyst at Rabobank. "They don't want to change that menu board unless they absolutely have to".

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