Poor Potato Crop Risks French Fry Shortfall

Cold, wet weather has ruined multiple spud harvests in both the United States and Canada.

December 04, 2019

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Agriculture is predicting its lowest potato crop for the United States in nearly a decade, fueling rumors that the country could face a shortage of French fries, The Hill reports.

Potato companies say they are running into trouble trying to buy potatoes across the country because cold, wet weather ruined many spud harvests in the United States and Canada. In November, frost triggered potato crop losses in Manitoba, Canada, and North Dakota and Minnesota.

Manitoba was unable to harvest around 18% of potato acreage because of weather, while Alberta farmers experienced frost damage on 6.5% of its spud crop. Manitoba and Alberta are the second- and third-biggest Canadian growers.

Canada also has been experiencing a higher demand for potatoes because of more fry-processing capacity, which might trigger higher prices and tighter supplies for the United States. “French fry demand has just been outstanding lately, and so supplies can’t meet the demand,” said Travis Blacker, industry relations director with the Idaho Potato Commission.

However, companies like Cavendish Farms aren’t too worried about having enough potatoes for its products because of availability of potatoes from East Coast producers.