News March 2019

North America: Will French fry production lead to increased potato acreage?

North American processors either have or will be bringing online as least 1.3 billion pounds of new frozen potato product processing capacity between October 2018 and December 2019, writes Bruce Huffaker, Publisher of North American Potato Market News in Potato Country magazine. That is roughly an 8 percent expansion in about 16 months. When the new lines operate at capacity, they will use between 20 million and 21 million cwt of potatoes per year, Mr Huffaker points out.

He writes that since the new facilities are spread between growing areas in the Columbia Basin, Idaho, Alberta and Manitoba, the impact on needed acreage will be dependent upon expected yields in those growing areas.

“We believe that the total area increase needed to support the new capacity will be between 44,000 and 47,000 acres. Some of those potatoes were under contract for the 2018 crop, but the last of the announced expansions will not come online until December 2019. Therefore, the earliest that we will see the full impact of this expansion will be the 2020 crop,” Huffaker writes.

He highlights in his article that:

  • North America can expect demand for its frozen potato products to grow by about 400 million pounds per year.
  • “We estimate that North American growers will need to add about 8,000 acres of processing potatoes per year. However, most of that acreage is likely to be diverted from the table potato sector rather than requiring new ground.”
  • The next round of North American plant expansion has the potential to destabilize potato markets.

Read the full article on the Potato Country magazine website