Agreement Signed To Allow U.S. Chipping Potatoes Into Japan

The National Potato Council (NPC) and United States Potato Board (USPB) have announced that after more than 25 years of effort, the U.S. potato industry, on Feb. 1, achieved market access to Japan for U.S. chipping potatoes from 14 states.

Access was granted due to the shortage of chipping potatoes that occurs in Japan each spring; access is limited to the February through June period. This access is based on a strict processing protocol that requires the potatoes to be processed into potato chips at approved plants in Japan.

This opening was made possible in part because of the cooperation between the USPB and the Japan Potato Chip Manufactures Association (JPCMA). The U.S. effort was carried out through the “Phytosanitary Initiative,” which employs Bryant Christie and is funded by the USPB, NPC and state potato organizations. State potato grower organizations played a key role in assisting with Japanese Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) visits to the United States and advising on the protocol development. Additional funding for work, both in the United States and Japan, particularly the work of the USPB representative in Japan, Uniflex Marketing, was provided by the USDA-administered Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) grants.

“The industry would have never achieved its goal without the outstanding work by APHIS personnel both in the U.S. and Tokyo, especially the deputy director for phytosanitary issues management and her staff, ” said John Keeling, NPC executive vice president and CEO. “We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Agricultural Counselor at the Embassy in Tokyo as well as the rest of the Foreign Agricultural Service staff in Tokyo and the U.S.” Further assistance was provided by the Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Trade Representative staff in Washington, D.C.

To help the Japanese chip manufacturers fully meet the shortfalls experienced each year, the USPB and NPC will continue to work on the full implementation of this market access agreement, including the expansion of the number of states allowed to ship to Japan from the initial 14. In Japan the JPCMA will work with MAFF to expand the number of processing plants approved beyond the initial one.

“Exports in the first year will be very limited since there will only be one processor in Japan approved to import and they will be doing so on a trial basis,” said John Toaspern, USPB vice president, international marketing. “As the result of a reverse trade mission hosted by the USPB this past summer, that processor has lined up a very limited number of suppliers in the U.S. for these initial test shipments.”

John Toaspern said that it is important for the U.S. potato industry to fully understand the provisions of the import protocol.

“The protocol relates to all aspects of the production and distribution process including seed, field inspections, storage, soil removal, packing and shipping,” he said. “There are even more detailed requirements to which the potato chip processors must adhere once the potatoes arrive in Japan, of which U.S. growers and shippers need to be aware.”

For more information and a copy of the import protocol, call the USPB (303) 369-7783 at or the NPC at (202) 682-9456.

Originally posted Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006