Aug 31, 2017U.S. potato exports set new record highs
Increases for nearly all products, especially seed potatoes, have led US potato exports to their highest levels in both value and volume of products, according to numbers from Potatoes USA. For the July 2016 to June 217 marketing year the U.S. exported a record 1,712,364 metric tons (MT) of potatoes and potato products, totaling $1,758,130,172.
While there were increases in nearly every product type, the largest jump came from seed potatoes, which increased 97 percent from the previous market year. However, that number can be thrown off somewhat by misclassification of fresh potato exports.
Fresh potato exports were up 9 percent for a total of 491,716 MT, chip exports increased 5 percent to 52,103 MT and frozen products jumped 3 percent to 1,026,429 MT. Not every area increased, however. A rough start to the marketing year contributed to exports of dehydrated potatoes falling by 10 percent to 122,063 MT.
All told, this represents the movement of 71,837,331 hundredweight of potatoes, at fresh weight equivalent (FWE), out of the U.S. market. That accounts for approximately a fifth of U.S. potato production for the marketing year. Again using FWE, frozen products accounted for 60 percent of the total exports, dehy 24 percent and fresh 15 percent.
The top destination of exports remained unchanged, with Japan hanging on as the top market with Canada close behind. Exports to Japan were 680,264 MT (FWE) worth $363 million with 635,463 MT being shipped to Canada valued at $298 million. Mexico was a not-too-distant third with 527,464 MT worth $237 million. Korea and China rounded out the top five with $109 million and $107 million respectively.
Potatoes USA advises that with global trade in potatoes and potato products averaging an 8 percent yearly growth rate there is still room for exports to expand beyond these levels. However, they caution the strong U.S. dollar, no new trade deals on the horizon for U.S products and rising competition from European Union exports still pose problems.
Even given those challenges, the group still characterizes the outlook for exports as positive given the weakness of the dollar in the past six months, the fact that American processors are increasing capacity and that there are signs that efforts to expand access for fresh potatoes could pay off in some markets. Potatoes USA credits the increased demand for U.S. potatoes and potato products to their high quality compared to other counties offerings and the group’s marketing programs.