Across Canada, with the exception of Manitoba, many provinces are seeing above average numbers for how many processing potatoes are stuck in storage. The amount of potatoes in storage for Canada’s processing sector is 4.2% above the three-year average as of May 1, 2020, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada’s (UPGC) latest update.
The UPGC attributes the higher numbers to the COVID-19 pandemic which has “had a dramatic effect on french fry sales as sit-down portions of quick service and fast casual restaurants were closed.”
Numbers reflect above average amount of potatoes left in storage
Alberta has 18.9% more potatoes in storage than its three-year average. However, on closer look, Alberta is looking at 210,000 hundredweight (cwt) more potatoes in storage in 2020 than what it had this time last year. A low three-year average represents this stark contrast, but on a year-by-year comparison: 2020 has 3.3% more potatoes than 2019, and 7.4% more potatoes than 2018.
However, these extra potatoes are still significant. The Potato Growers of Alberta estimates about $60 to $70 million worth of processing potatoes are still in storage. According to a CTV Calgary report, Southern Alberta’s big three potato processors Cavendish Farms, McCain Foods, and Lamb Weston have cut the total size of contracted acreage this spring by 20 to 25 per cent. Alberta’s two potato chip processing companies, Pepsico-Frito Lay and Old Dutch, are still operating.
After Alberta, the provinces with a higher-than-average number of processing potatoes in storage include Ontario (11.4% above its three-year average), Prince Edward Island (6.5 per cent), and Quebec (4.7 per cent).