The United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC) published a document outlining planting recommendations for Canada’s 2020 potato crop. Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of UPGC), writes that “growers are asked to consider all available information as they make their planting decisions this spring,” but “ultimately it is up to each individual grower to make those planting decisions which have the opportunity to provide better prosperity and sustainability for their farm business and family.”
With planting season starting, uncertainty still lies about the future demand for potatoes because buying and eating habits have shifted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Processors who manufacture French fries have seen a decline in sales because sit-down restaurants have closed and fast-food restaurant have limited operations to only delivery/drive-thru options. As a result, according to UPGC, French fry companies have reduced the volume of potatoes they will need to contract from growers not only in Canada, but from around the world.
Unfortunately, depending on which markets these individual factories supply, UPGC states that the cuts could range from 15 per cent to 30 per cent below last year’s contracts. When fryers are able to make these final estimates available to their growers, producers in turn should only plant what is required for those contracted volumes.
UPGC states that while cuts to demand for fresh potatoes are not as substantial as in the processing sector, information to date suggests the table market will need 10 to 15 per cent less potatoes than last year. MacIsaac notes that there is difficultly in predicting these numbers because they rely on the start-up date for when businesses will be allowed to re-open and also how fast the market will return to previous levels.