CBC reports this morning that potato processor Cavendish Farms has advised the Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) potato producers under contract to supply the company with spuds to “sell to other markets if they can,” as the company deals with a sharp drop in demand for its product in the wake of COVID-19-related restaurant closures.
“These are unprecedented times,” company spokesperson Mary Keith wrote to CBC via email.
“While food remains an essential item for everyone, we have seen a significant drop in the demand for french fries as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the closure of restaurants in favour of take out and drive-thru only,” Keith said. “This has meant curtailments of production at Cavendish Farms in New Annan [on Prince Edward Island].”
The drop in production means the company has too many potatoes.
Cavendish Farms operates two processing facilities in New Annan, and is the biggest private employer on P.E.I., with close to 700 employees when operating at peak capacity. According to the company’s website it is the fourth-largest potato processor in North America, with facilities in Canada and the US.
The company is currently in negotiations with Island potato growers through the P.E.I. Potato Board on a new contract.
This week Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, told CBC demand for fresh potatoes faced an initial surge as a result of COVID-19, but has since levelled off. Demand for processed potato products like french fries has fallen off, he said, as people across North America are ordered to stay home.