US: Halt in potato exports to Mexico manageable

Though the stop to U.S. potato exports to Mexico has been unfortunate, not being able to ship potatoes deep into Mexico is not likely to significantly affect export programs this year.

“The Mexican market is a very important market for us, and increased access to that market would be beneficial,” said John Toaspern, chief marketing officer for the United States Potato Board. “But, in the big scheme, it will not impact our total exports.” While access to the Mexican market beyond 26 kilometers was granted to U.S. shippers earlier this year, that access was rescinded this summer. But because of the timing of the granting and revocation of access, shippers will not be significantly affected.

“Potatoes take a whole year to grow, so there were no potatoes planted for the expanded market,” explained Toaspern. “If we had gotten access in January and then the market closed, it would be different. But because access didn't come until June, there was no impact.” The prospect of increased access to the Mexican market comes as part of a general trend of increasing shipments of U.S. potatoes to more markets around the world. Over the last 20 years, exports have grown from between five and 12 percent a year amid growing worldwide demand.

“Economic development means more people have the resources to purchase higher-valued food items and the change in diets around the world has led to increases in demand,” said Toaspern. A reduction in trade barriers has also helped fuel the greater presence of U.S. potatoes abroad, though the export market will present some challenges this year. While Russia's ban on European and U.S. goods will not significantly affect American exporters directly, it could make for increased competition abroad as European shippers look for alternative markets to make up for lost access to Russia. The prospect of diminished quality from some European countries could also affect the market.

“A big wild card this year is the fact that Europe has issues with wet weather and storage,” said Toaspern. “They have a lot of potatoes, and if there are quality issues, there will be more potatoes at lower prices, and that might drive down prices.”


For more information:
John Toaspern
United States Potato Board
+1 303 369 7783

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