In an upcoming bilateral meeting between the U.S. and Japan, the American potato industry is set to make a significant push for broader market access. The meeting, scheduled from September 25-29, will see representatives from the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) engage in technical discussions on plant health with their Japanese counterparts.
Leading the charge for the U.S. potato industry is National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles, who will be present in Japan to advocate for the industry’s long-standing goal: securing market access for all U.S. fresh potatoes in Japan.
While the U.S. has been exporting chipping potatoes to Japan since 2006, the broader market for fresh potatoes, including the lucrative table stock potatoes, remains untapped. If this market is fully opened, it could mean an additional $150 million to $200 million in annual exports for the U.S. potato industry. Japan already stands as the second-largest market for U.S. potatoes.
The push for expanded access has garnered significant political support. In May 2023, a bipartisan group of 35 members of Congress penned a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. They urged him to assist in opening the Japanese market for U.S. fresh potatoes. The letter highlighted that the U.S. had first sought table stock access to Japan nearly three decades ago.
The Congress members argued that Japan’s refusal to negotiate and open the market lacks a valid phytosanitary justification. They expressed concerns over Japan’s continued delays in negotiations, especially regarding the recent request for a Pest Risk Assessment.
Ahead of the bilateral meeting, an on-the-record media briefing is scheduled for Tuesday, September 19, from 10-10:30 AM EST. The briefing, led by Kam Quarles, will provide insights into the U.S. potato industry’s objectives and expectations from the upcoming meeting. Following his remarks, there will be an open Q&A session.