Short sup­ply as spuds spoil

French fries in jeop­ardy

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - — Bloomberg

Potato pro­ces­sors are rush­ing to buy sup­plies and ship them across North Amer­ica in or­der to keep French fries on the menu af­ter cold, wet weather damaged crops in key pro­duc­ers in the U.S. and Canada.

Cool con­di­tions started to hit grow­ing re­gions in Oc­to­ber, lash­ing po­ta­toes with frost. Farm­ers in Al­berta and Idaho were able to dig up some damaged crops for stor­age. But grow­ers in Man­i­toba, North Dakota and Min­nesota re­ceived snow and rain, forc­ing them to aban­don some sup­plies in fields.

As the wild weather hurt crops, an in­crease in fry-pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity in Canada has boosted de­mand. The com­bi­na­tion will lead to tight sup­plies, and it’s likely that potato prices could climb this year across North Amer­ica.

The United Potato Grow­ers of Canada es­ti­mates about 12,000 Man­i­toba acres (about 4,900 hectares), or 18% of the prov­ince’s planted area, were left un­har­vested — equal to what was aban­doned for all of Canada last sea­son. About 6.5% of Al­berta’s po­ta­toes are es­ti­mated to be frost damaged. Man­i­toba is the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest grower, fol­lowed by Al­berta. Prince Ed­ward Is­land is No. 1. The govern­ment will is­sue es­ti­mates for the na­tion’s crop on Dec. 6.

Part of the prob­lem for pro­ces­sors is the crop dam­age means po­ta­toes are com­ing in smaller. French-fry mak­ers usu­ally fa­vor longer spuds. In Canada, Cavendish Farms re­cently opened a new pro­cess­ing plant in Leth­bridge, Al­berta. Thanks to a bet­ter har­vest on the coun­try’s East Coast, the com­pany isn’t ex­pect­ing any cus­tomer short­ages at this time, Mary Keith, a spokes­woman, said by email.

“It’s a man­age­able sit­u­a­tion,” Kevin Macisaac, gen­eral man­ager of the United Potato Grow­ers of Canada, said.

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