The amount of potatoes in storage for Canada’s processing sector is 4.2 per cent above the three-year average as of May 1, 2020, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada’s (UPGC) latest update.
The UPGC attributes the higher numbers to the COVID-19 pandemic which has “had a dramatic effect on french fry sales as sit-down portions of quick service and fast casual restaurants were closed.” Potatoes in Canada reports.
The Potato Growers of Alberta estimates about $60 to $70 million worth of processing potatoes are still in storage. According to a CTV Calgary report, Southern Alberta’s big three potato processors Cavendish Farms, McCain Foods, and Lamb Weston have cut the total size of contracted acreage this spring by 20 to 25 per cent. Alberta’s two potato chip processing companies, Pepsico-Frito Lay and Old Dutch, are still operating.
After Alberta, the provinces with a higher-than-average number of processing potatoes in storage include Ontario (11.4 per cent above its three-year average), Prince Edward Island (6.5 per cent), and Quebec (4.7 per cent).
The only province with fewer processing potatoes is Manitoba. Manitoba currently has 13.3 per cent less potatoes in storage when compared with its three-year average. Initial storage holdings started out lower than previous years due to a difficult harvest and a number of abandoned acres.
In Manitoba, McCain Foods scaled back production at its Carberry and Portage la Prairie plants in response to COVID-19.
In their update, UPGC stated that french fry companies across the country have advised growers they may not be able to use all of their contracted raw processing inventory this year.