In marketing year 2019/20, potato farmers in China are expected to reap a bumper harvest, with fresh potato production increasing by 5 percent year on year. Favorable weather in key growing regions will boost China’s processed potato production, particularly in the fast-growing area of frozen french fries.
China’s additional tariffs on U.S. processed potato products will result in decreased imports of frozen french fries. While the United States does not have market access to ship fresh table stock potatoes, it is one of only a few countries eligible to export seed potatoes to China, although commercial shipments have been limited.
China’s overall potato consumption remains stable. Industry estimates that 60 percent of domestic potatoes are consumed fresh in households and restaurants. The processing and animal feed sectors each consume another 15 percent. Seed potatoes and storage loss each account for 5 percent.
Processing potatoes account for 10-15 percent of total potato consumption and include frozen French fries (FFF), chips, starch, and dehydrated potatoes. According to industry sources, many potato processing facilities in China only run four to six months a year due to the limited supply of suitable fresh potatoes and inadequate or outdated storage facilities. A significant amount of potatoes spoil in storage, which then shortens the number of days potato processing lines are able to operate.
Fresh Potato Consumption in China, 2019
Many potato processing factories are located in the Northern Single Crop Zone, where potatoes are harvested in September and October. As a result, the processing potato supply is very limited during March to August.
China does not allow market access for fresh potatoes imports (for consumption) from any country due to phytosanitary concerns. While China does allow seed potatoes to be imported, the amount is very small. Seed potatoes from Alaska are currently the only fresh potatoes the United States exports to China.