US potato exports hit record levels

The volume and value of all U.S. potato exports — including a 9% increase in fresh potatoes — hit record numbers in fiscal year 2017. Potatoes USA reported the gains from July 2016-June 2017 on Aug. 29. Sales hit $1.76 billion and volume reached 71.84 million cwt. at their fresh weight equivalent, according to a news release from Potatoes USA. Japan is the largest export market for U.S. potatoes, followed closely by Canada. A total of 680,264 metric tons went to Japan in the past fiscal year, and 635,463 metric tons of fresh and processed potatoes were shipped to Canada. Mexico is in third place, with 527,464 metric tons of potatoes sent from the US. Fresh potatoes are still restricted to a 26-kilometer zone in Mexico. Potatoes USA sees growth opportunities for US exporters, even as the strong US dollar and competition from the European Union challenge growers. “However, prospects still look good for US exports as the dollar has weakened over the past six months and US processors are expanding capacity while ongoing efforts could increase access for US fresh potatoes to a number of markets,” according to the release. (The Packer)