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Plummeting french fry sales has Canadian potato industry re-evaluating

French fry sales are down across North America as tens of thousands of restaurants have closed during COVID-19, which means the potato industry has to adapt quickly. Companies that turn potatoes into french fries, wedges and hash browns are slowing down production, because there isn’t enough space to store all the frozen product, reports Alexis Kienlen in Alberta Farmer.

French fry sales are down across North America as tens of thousands of restaurants have closed during COVID-19, which means the potato industry has to adapt quickly. Companies that turn potatoes into french fries, wedges and hash browns are slowing down production, because there isn’t enough space to store all the frozen product.

In Alberta and Manitoba, potato processors have been short potatoes because of poor harvest conditions last year — with more than 20,000 acres “being abandoned in farmers’ fields,” according to the United Potato Growers of Canada.

That had led to french fry processors in Western Canada importing potatoes from the U.S., but that’s now ceased, said the general manager of that organization.

But while french fry sales have stagnated, potato chip sales are up. “Chip sales have been great,” he said. “Fresh potato sales were really good at the start. They’ve levelled off now as people have shopped and got what they need.”

Meanwhile, United Potato Growers of Canada is trying to figure out the amount of potatoes in storage so it can forecast how much production will be needed this coming year.

Full report in Alberta Grower here. Alexis Kienlen can be reached at [email protected]

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