With Frozens in Forefront, US Potato Exports Set Records

Frozen french fries dominated exports of United States potato products from July of 2016 to June of 2017, as the total value of all segment shipments achieved record sales value and volume of $1,758,130,172 and 1,712,364 metric tons (MT).

At their fresh weight equivalent (FWE), this represents the movement of 71,837,331 hundredweight of potatoes out of the US market, which is approximately 20% of the nation’s potato production for the marketing year. Frozen exports accounted for 60% of the total exports at the FWE, with dehydrated products weighing in at 24% and fresh at 15%.

There were increases for nearly all products from the previous marketing year, with the largest gain coming for seed potatoes at +97%, although these figures do get mixed up by miss classification of fresh potato exports.

Fresh potato exports at 491,716 MT were up 9%, potato chip exports rose 5% to 52,103 MT, and frozen product sales advanced 3% to 1,026,429 MT. Exports of dehydrated potatoes were down 10% to 122,063 MT after suffering significant declines for the first half of the marketing year.

Japan and Canada Top Markets

Japan remains the largest export market, with Canada a very close second. Based on the FWE volume for all products, exports to Japan hit 680,264 MT valued at $363 million, while Canada took 635,463 MT valued at $298 million. Mexico was not far behind with 527,464 MT valued at $237 million. Korea is now fourth at $109 million, with China fifth at $107 million.

With worldwide trade in potatoes and potato products averaging 8% annual growth, there remains significant opportunities for US exports to continue to grow, especially as the dollar has weakened over the past six months, reports Denver, Colorado-based Potatoes USA (formerly known as the United States Potato Board).