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Signs of a recovery in the Canadian french-fry business

french friesWhile the rest of the agriculture sector nervously eyes the oil melt-down, the Canadian potato industry might actually be poised for a comeback. There may be early signs of hope. The U.S. recovery has taken hold and consumers have begun to spend again — including buying fries at quick-serve restaurants. Oil prices have plummeted, dragging down the Canadian dollar. Will this mean new opportunities for the Canadian french fry industry? “I would expect it would,” says Keystone Potato Producers Association general manager Dan Sawatzky. “It’s definitely going to be a bit of a fight for market share, and with the dollar at 85 cents, we’re more competitive.” Nearly 60 per cent of the potatoes produced in Canada are steam-peeled, blanched, par-fried, flash frozen and packaged before finding their way to retail freezers and fast-food joints, almost all of them outside the country, says Ken MacIsaac, United Potato Growers of Canada general manager. MacIsaac says the growth of the Chinese market is particularly exciting, since those consumers have shown a real taste for North American-style fries, particularly from the varieties of potatoes Canadian and U.S. growers produce. More