U.S. Potato Exports Top $1 Billion

For the marketing year July 2006-June 2007 (MY07), the United States Potato Board (USPB) reports total U.S. potato exports were valued at a record of more than $1 billion. On a volume basis, total exports were 1.1 million metric tons (MT). This represents an increase over MY06 of 5 percent in volume and 13 percent in value. On a fresh weight equivalent basis, exports were equal to 52.1 million cwt. of raw potatoes, representing roughly 15 percent of total potato production in the United States and continuing a five-year trend of increasing exports.

The increase was led by exports of frozen potatoes, which reached 679,510 MT, valued at $550 million with a fresh weight equivalency of 25 million cwt. This is an increase in both volume and value of more than 15 percent from MY06 and represents record levels of exports of frozen potato products. The top export market for frozen products continues to be Japan at 253,810 MT, which grew by 6 percent this past year. Other top export markets – with their annual growth percentage – are Mexico, 91,627 MT (2 percent); Canada, 80,266 MT (63 percent); China, 39,561 MT (31 percent); Taiwan, 31,642 MT (64 percent); Korea, 28,779 MT (-11 percent); and the Philippines, 28,328 MT (56 percent). Exports to Central American Free Trade Agreement countries grew 8 percent, to a total of 45,007 MT. In most cases, increases in U.S. exports were due to overall expansion of consumption in the foreign markets, but the U.S. also benefited from short supplies in Europe to take market share away from the European Union (EU).

Tight world supplies and high prices of dehydrated potatoes resulted in a slight decline of 2 percent in the volume of worldwide exports by all producers, but a 29 percent increase in value. U.S. exports took advantage of reduced production in the EU and Australia to record a 6 percent increase in volume to 101,268 MT and a 32 percent increase in value to $143 million. These exports are equivalent to 15.6 million cwt. of raw potatoes. The unit value of U.S. dehy exports rose 25 percent, from $1,135 to $1,414 per MT. Exports to the largest market, Mexico, declined 31 percent by volume but were up 8 percent in value, as usage was impacted by decreased usage in fabricated chip production. The U.S. continued to regain sales to Japan to reach 18,413 MT, valued at $22 million in MY07. Other markets that showed good growth were China, Israel, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Declining exports to Canada led to an 11 percent decline in the volume of fresh potato exports to 258,679 MT, valued at $125 million. However, the decline in value was only 2 percent due to higher prices for U.S. potatoes. Canada still accounts for more than 60 percent of U.S. fresh potato exports, so the 14 percent decline in exports to this market had a big impact. Fresh exports to the second largest market, Mexico, were also off by 3 percent this past year, as the 26-kilometer border area has become saturated with U.S. potatoes. Further growth in this market will require increased market expansion through the changing of Mexican regulations that currently prevent U.S. potatoes from going below the 26-kilometer frontier zone. Fresh exports of both table-stock and chip-stock potatoes to Asia were off 11 percent, as exports to Taiwan corrected from an unusually high level in MY06 due to an almost complete failure in local production that year. Exports to Korea increased 208 percent to 6,157 MT, while Malaysia took 20 percent more U.S. potatoes and Japan imported 1,529 MT in just the second year of exports to this newly opened market.

Originally posted Wednesday, Sep. 26, 2007