Tens of thousands of restaurants are closed in North America, which means Canadians and Americans are eating fewer french fries than usual. The downturn in consumption has had an immediate impact on french fry processors in Canada and could alter how many potatoes are seeded in 2020, writes Robert Arnason in The Western Producer.
“It doesn’t take a great scientist to figure it out. Once the sit-down portions of restaurants closed… then all you have left is drive-throughs to (sell) french fries,” said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada.
“The simplicity is that there’s no freezer space left because sales have declined that much,” MacIsaac said from his home office near Charlottetown.
“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,” Mary Keith, spokesperson at Cavendish Farms, told the P.E.I. Potato Board.
It’s nearly impossible to say when french fry demand will return to normal because it’s difficult to predict when restaurants will re-open and consumers will have the disposable income to dine out.
Potato processors and growers across Canada will have to factor COVID-19 into production contracts for 2020, as soft demand for french fries could persist into the summer, fall and beyond.