Exactly a year ago, potatoes were seeing tight supplies and solid demand and it was expected that pricing would be strong in 2020. Then came Covid-19.
Bruce Huffaker, President of North American Potato Market News, says: “It’s been a very big challenge for the industry and for people in general.” Despite everything, 2021 likely will have some promising developments, such as vaccines and a recovering from the depths of the downturn that was seen in the early months of the pandemic, said Huffaker during the University of Idaho Ag Seminar.
He uses the global French fry trade as an example, according to a report by Capital Press: From October 2019 to February 2020, the industry was running 11% above the same time in the prior year. The timeframe of April to June, however, saw a 30% decline compared with the numbers of the year before. The industry has been recovering, though, says Huffaker, and in September it was down by only 2.8%, though the North American French fry exports are still about 15% behind last year.
2020 has been the first year since 2003 that the global French fry trade has been in decline compared with the previous year, and while it won’t be able to recover this trend in 2021, it might be able to get back there in 2022, says Huffaker.
The new-crop potato demand for processed product through December was down 5.7%. This is partially caused by a backup of potatoes from the 2019 crop but it is also because, while the domestic demand has recovered, the export demand is not yet back up to the levels it was at a year ago, says Huffaker.
Source: Capital Press. Read the full report here