Market Overview

Get Your French Fry Fix Now Before A Potential Shortage

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Get Your French Fry Fix Now Before A Potential Shortage

Potato farmers are suffering from cold and wet weather conditions and this could impact your side order of French fries.

What Happened

Potato farmers in Alberta and Idaho were first to feel the impact of cool conditions in October but were able to salvage some of their damaged crops for storage, Bloomberg reported. Farmers in Manitoba, North Dakota and Minnesota were then forced to abandon some supplies in their fields.

Approximately 18% of Manitoba's planted area were left unharvested while 6.5% of all potatoes in Alberta are likely frost damaged, according to The United Potato Growers of Canada. On the other side of the country, Prince Edward Island, Canada's largest potato grower, will release data on Dec. 6.

Similar data is coming from the other side of the border, according to Bloomberg. Idaho is the country's top potato producer and total output is modeled to fall by 5.5%.

Potato processors are now scrambling to find supplies which will likely push potato prices higher across North America, Stephen Nicholson, a grains and oilseeds analyst, told Bloomberg. Farmers are also likely to export less potatoes which will yield a similar pricing effect internationally.

Why It's Important

On its surface, the data doesn't seem that alarming for the French fry industry. However, the crop damage is impacting mostly larger potatoes which means the supply of potatoes that are not impacted are mostly smaller. French fries are best when made out of longer spuds.

The potato shortage is "a manageable situation" for the time being, at least in Canada. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, told Bloomberg potatoes will merely "move from one channel to another that they sometimes don't move in a normal year."

 

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