In 2006, the United States opened the Japanese market for fresh U.S. chipping potatoes. For the first time since World War II, potatoes grown in the U.S. could be exported to Japan and processed into potato chips, according to a news story issued by Potatoes USA.
The industry body points out that although the market opening was significant and welcomed, it came with restrictions. Chipping potatoes had to be processed, could only be imported to a single factory in Hiroshima, and could only enter from February to July.
As the program continued, adjustments and expansions were made. A second factory was approved to import U.S. chipping potatoes in the early 2010s, and transport of the potatoes on land to that Japanese factory was approved as well.
Finally, in 2020, Japan gained year-round access, and the results have been significant:
- From July 2021 – June 2022, more than 56,000 MT of chipping potatoes, worth $26 million, were exported to Japan.
- These sales are a 75% increase in volume and a 73% increase in dollars from the same period in 2019.
- The U.S. remains the only market that can supply the Japanese chipping potato industry.
- Exports to Japan are so substantial that Japan has become the largest export market for U.S. fresh potatoes in Asia and the third largest export market for fresh potatoes globally – behind Canada and Mexico.
According to Potatoes USA, this success came as the result of hard work by USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in collaboration with the U.S. potato industry and Japanese potato chip manufacturers. Together, a significant new market has been developed for U.S. chipping potatoes, and Potatoes USA continues to work to stimulate commercial purchases and increase U.S. market share.
“The U.S. potato industry thanks USDA for its assistance with this effort and now wishes to turn its attention to the bigger goal of opening the Japanese market for fresh U.S. table-stock potatoes, which would result in hundreds of millions of dollars of additional potato exports to the market,” says Potatoes USA in its news coverage.