The Potato Growers of Alberta have claimed that lingering concerns about global french fry markets due to COVID-19 are putting a damper on an otherwise joyful time of year for local potato farmers.
“The 2019 crop is now complete and done,” says PGA executive director Terence Hochstein. “It has been processed. And we are just starting here in the last couple weeks on the 2020 crop. But due to the COVID situation, not only here in Canada but also in the U.S. and globally, there is no guarantee what we put in the shed this year will be used completely.”
Local potato processing plants either halted or drastically curtailed production on the 2019 harvest after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down restaurants all over the world.
With processors’ freezers full, and without other processing options, Hochstein told The Herald earlier this year he feared what remained of the 2019 potato crop in storage may have to be destroyed. Thankfully, says Hochstein, it largely never came to that after producers found a home for the crop in the fresh food and livestock feed markets.
“In the end, the processing crop in the province ended up getting utilized,” confirms Hochstein. “We exported some to other provinces, and we found a home. We were able to utilize the processors. But for some of the seed crop, it ended up being destroyed.”