In Canada, approximately 89,000 acres are dedicated to potato cultivation for the fresh sector, producing around 29.6 million potatoes. However, a notable trend shift from red to yellow potatoes in North America is improving yields and increasing production, even with stable acreage.
While Canada’s prices have remained relatively stable, the United States has seen a significant drop due to a surplus. Idaho, trying to recover from two years of shortages, has aggressively priced its potatoes since September, which could impact Canadian exports to the U.S.
In the processing sector, North America, particularly the Pacific Northwest, is grappling with large surpluses of Russet potatoes. Processors, overreacting to past shortages, have over-contracted acres, leading to the disposal of excess potatoes in regions like Alberta and Manitoba. Although the sector is expanding, relief from these surpluses is not expected until spring 2024.
Eastern Canada and Maine are facing challenges with hollow heart and rot in Russets due to abundant rainfall, potentially leading to storage problems and we are seeing tight supply of processing potatoes in Eastern Canada. We will see if North American processors can regain market share with the difficulties faced by the European harvest.
Europe is experiencing a challenging supply scenario with unprecedented rainfall and flooding, making this year’s harvest one of the most difficult on record. Countries like Belgium, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the UK still had 20-30% of their crops to be harvested by the end of November. Rising prices and tight supplies are expected to continue in Europe, possibly opening opportunities for Canada and the U.S. to capture more market share.
Meanwhile, the U.S. reports its largest potato crop since 2000. Idaho, in particular, has seen a significant increase in production, with Russet table potato supplies expected to be plentiful. However, red potato supplies might decrease, while yellow potato supplies continue to rise.
Seed sectors in both Canada and the U.S. report varied results. Canadian regions have had good seed harvests, though there are concerns about the impact on the seed business if processors reduce contracted acreage next year. In the U.S., five out of the top seven seed-producing states registered decreases in overall acreage, though this was offset by a significant increase in Idaho.
In conclusion, the global potato industry is navigating a complex landscape of surpluses and challenges. Canada, with its stable production and pricing, along with the U.S., with its largest crop in decades, are poised to potentially benefit from the current global dynamics, especially in light of the challenges faced in Europe.