The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service in Ottawa (FAS/Ottawa) released its annual report on the Canadian potato industry today. The GAIN report, titled “Potatoes and Potato Products Annual 2018”, focuses on key aspects of current and expected developments in the Canadian potato situation, including production trends, fresh and processed potato consumption and production, trade, and policy. Some of the highlights in this comprehensive report include:
- A slight decline in total Canadian potato production in marketing year
(MY) 2018/19. Dry growing conditions in the prairies and the number of consecutive high temperature days across most of Canada’s potato growing regions are expected to reduce yields, more than offsetting higher area planted. Total Canadian potato area planted has remained relatively stable, despite a 38 percent decline in the number of potato farms between 2006 and 2016. As a result, potato area has consolidated among fewer operators. The prairie provinces are expected to emerge as Canada’s leading production area. Hotter, dryer weather has taken a toll on Prince Edward Island growers, who still lead all Canadian provinces, producing approximately 25 percent of the national crop, but a provincial moratorium on high capacity wells for agriculture stifles potato production.
- FAS/Ottawa forecasts a seven percent decline in Canadian consumption of fresh potatoes in MY 2018/19, as estimated consumption returns to recent average levels. The decline in per capita fresh potato consumption observed since the 1980’s could rebound if potato industry has marketing campaigns focusing on the health benefits of fresh potatoes and healthy cooking methods successfully reach new generations of consumers. The Canadian potato industry has discussed the establishment of a national promotion and marketing agency to facilitate research and marketing for the industry for several years. The industry is reportedly continuing outreach activities with the goal of creating an agency.
- Virtually all Canadian fresh potato imports are from the United States. FAS/Ottawa forecasts imports to grow one percent for MY 2018/19. This growth will represent a second consecutive year of increased fresh imports following a 52 percent decline in imports from MY 2013/14 to MY 2014/15 and a further 20 percent decline in MY 2015/16. FAS/Ottawa forecasts fresh potato exports to remain flat in MY 2018/19 on lower production forecasts and ample supplies in the United States.
- FAS/Ottawa forecasts a two percent increase in frozen potato product production for MY 2018/19 on increased production of potatoes for processing, increased processing capacity, increased consumption of processed potatoes, and increased export activity. Canadian imports of frozen potato products are not significant, but Canada is a major frozen potato product processor and increasingly export oriented as domestic consumption remains relatively static. Canadians consume approximately 6.5 kg of frozen potato products per person per year. FAS/Ottawa forecasts a one percent rise in total consumption MY 2018/19, as per capita consumption is projected to remain flat as health conscious consumers trim back their french fry consumption.