With restaurants closed due to COVID-19, the potato industry in Canada has taken a big hit. Lukie Pieterse, editor and publisher of Potato News Today joined guest host Heather Morrison of CBC Saskatchewan to talk about the impact the pandemic has had on the industry.
Fast Food/Quick Service Restaurants
“Pivoting” is a term that has been thrown around by entrepreneurs as they try to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis. But Jose Magsaysay Jr., founder and chairman emeritus of the food kiosk pioneer Potato Corner, pivoting is not always the solution for crumbling businesses. “You pivot depending on your resources. Look into yourself before you pivot. Am I a player now in this crisis? If I’m not and I don’t have the money to pivot, I will just conserve, stop what I’m doing, and spot trends,” he said during a webinar organized by the Philippine Franchise Association on Thursday.
Britain’s farmers are struggling to work out what to do with tens of thousands of tonnes of spare potatoes when their season ends this summer after the closure of fish and chip shops during the lockdown triggered a collapse in demand.
With COVID-19 closures in place all across the United States, and even the world, restaurant demand for potatoes has fallen. According to Frank Muir, CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission, 60% of Idaho potatoes go to restaurants. “We’re trying to move crops in unprecedented times,” Muir said. “Prices were strong but they’ve been dipping. We can’t replace 60% of the food service loss.”
For farmer Mike Pink, spring is supposed to be a time of hope, when he can survey a green field of young potato plants and anticipate the bounty to be pulled from the sandy soils of the Columbia Basin, reports Hal Bernton of the Seattle Times. This year, this is a season when dreams die. Due to an epic potato glut that imploded his market, he has decided to do what was once unthinkable — destroy part of his crop rather than sink more dollars into cultivation. During the past two months, fast food sales have dropped sharply.
Last week saw the release of our end-March stocks estimates. Fresh bags and chipping stocks that remain in grower ownership at the end of March were estimated at 157.3Kt. This shows a 49% drawdown from end of January, suggesting 151.6Kt moved from grower ownership in that time. By the end of March approximately 79% of fresh bag and chipping material had left grower ownership which is 2% lower than the 5-year average. However the question faced is; what will happen to the remaining 21% if the fish and chip trade remains subdued?
McDonald’s Canada today announced Fries For Good, a nationwide initiative to support COVID-19 relief efforts and other recent Canadian tragedies. From May 8-21, 2020, McDonald’s Canada will donate a portion of the proceeds from all fries sold in Canada to the Canadian Red Cross, supporting the Canadian Emergencies & COVID-19 Response Fund, the Nova Scotia Stronger Together Fund, and disaster response and preparedness work across Canada. Fries For Good is also a way for McDonald’s Canada to continue its unwavering support for Canadian farmers.
Here’s why shoppers in the US are currently having difficulties finding frozen french fries: Potatoes USA CEO Blair Richardson joins Yahoo Finance’s Seana Smith to discuss how the coronavirus is impacting the potato supply chain and what that means for farmers.
Beauty is only a peeler away. B.C. potato farmers in Canada are hoping grocery shoppers will embrace less-than-perfect Kennebec potatoes, a variety that’s usually turned into fresh-cut french fries, as local restaurant demand has fizzled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have B.C. restaurants cut their potato orders, reduced demand across Canada has led to a glut of Kennebec potatoes on the fresh market. That’s led to downward pressure on prices as potatoes from other provinces find their way to B.C.
Total acres of Idaho’s iconic potato crop could decrease significantly this year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Although there was a rush on potatoes at grocery stores early on, that has abated somewhat and has not been enough to make up for a major decrease in sales of potatoes and potato products through foodservice channels, according to industry leaders. Some french fry processors in Idaho have cut contracted acreage by 10-20 percent this year, according to North American Potato Market News Publisher, Bruce Huffaker.
Manitoba potato growers are feeling the impact of COVID-19, Cory Knutt of PembinaValley Online reports. According to Dan Sawatzky, Manager of Keystone Potato Producers Association: “Acreage will be down this year,” he said. “An estimate might be in that 67,000 range, which is similar to a couple years back. We are seeing demand for fries diminishing, certainly with the COVID-19 virus.
Over the past 3 weeks we have seen the sudden and drastic closure of the vast majority of demand for chipping and bagged potatoes for foodservice markets in the UK. With the chip-shop market being mostly closed, what is the impact on potato tonnages destined for this market? AHDB estimates a balance (at mid-March) of 188,576 tonnes is facing the issue of lost demand.
Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc. announced its fiscal third quarter 2020 results. “Our results in the third quarter were mixed,” said Tom Werner, President and CEO. “At this time, despite only two months remaining in our fiscal fourth quarter, we are unable to reasonably forecast frozen potato product demand because of the pandemic’s unpredictable near-term effect on restaurant traffic in North America and our key international markets.”
New Zealand produces 500 million kilograms of potatoes each year and half of that ends up as frozen chips with the vast majority being sold to takeaway shops and restaurants. Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge said people making do by whipping up their greasies at home. ”That hasn’t made up for a drop in demand from the hospitality sector in the food service sector, which has essentially gone to zero.”
The downturn in consumption has had an immediate impact on french fry processors in Canada and could alter how many potatoes are seeded in 2020. It’s nearly impossible to say when french fry demand will return to normal because it’s difficult to predict when restaurants will re-open and consumers will have the disposable income to dine out. Potato processors and growers across Canada will have to factor COVID-19 into production contracts for 2020.
Potatoes USA: 2019 a banner year for potatoes, but in 2020 exports decline with severe losses in foodservice sales
Utilization of U.S. grown potatoes increased by 3.3% in volume in 2019 compared to 2018, an increase of 1,183 million pounds. The full force of the global pandemic and its impact on food sales became very apparent in March, Potatoes USA says. Beginning with the restrictions in China and then elsewhere in Asia, U.S. exports slowed considerably. Domestically, the calls for social distancing and the restrictions on sporting events, entertainment, bars, and restaurants has led to a drastic decline in foodservice sales.
In this week’s Potato Weekly report, issued yesterday by AHDB Potatoes, analyst Adian Wright writes that trade in the chipping market is at almost a complete standstill as most chip shops remain closed across the UK. Meanwhile, another week of good weather nationwide has meant that for many, planting of potatoes has continued at pace, but the uncertainty of how long certain markets may be unavailable is hanging over some growers who are trying to make planting decisions.
Chips are down for Dutch potato sector as demand for french fries plummets amid foodservice closures
As restaurants, snack bars and fast food outlets remain on lockdown to contain the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Dutch out-of-home and foodservice markets have seen a sudden and steep decline in demand for fries, FoodingredientsFirst reports. Industry executives tell FoodIngredientsFirst how potato growers are facing huge losses and a dire forecast of a one million metric ton surplus of french fries.
The closure of fish and chip shops due to coronavirus has left thousands of tonnes of potatoes languishing in storage – threatening to put farmers out of business, Farmers Weekly reports. Based in Cambridgeshire, potato merchants Abbey Produce usually supplies about 30,000t of potatoes into the chip shop trade every year. But sales director Duncan Negus told Farmers Weekly his company hadn’t been able to sell a single potato for more than a week.
Potato growers are facing huge losses now restaurants and snack bars have closed their doors and compensation plans have not yet materialised, the NRC reports. Now that the majority of restaurants, bars and fast food outlets worldwide have closed their doors to contain coronavirus, growers are looking at a stock of 1.5 million tons of potatoes, two thirds of which cannot be sold.