A weak Canadian Dollar and shipping disruptions at the Port of Seattle (Washington, US) could increase demand for Canadian potatoes in 2015, says a spokesperson for the United Potato Growers of Canada.
Potato acres have fallen by 25,000, or 6.7 percent, during the last three years as processing companies such as McCain Foods and Simplot shifted production to lower cost regions such as the Pacific Northwest.
Potato growers in Washington state often average more than 600 hundredweight per acre, which is double the average yield in Manitoba.
Kevin MacIsaac, United Potato Growers of Canada general manager, said processors may rethink the production shift to the Pacific Northwest after a work slowdown at the Port of Seattle obstructed exports this winter.
Unable to get french fries to customers in Asia, the companies in-creased production in Canadian processing plants, MacIsaac said.
“Plants in Canada have run hard this winter because of the slowdown in Seattle,” he said. “They (may) have realized this year that they need to have an area other than the Pacific Northwest or the Columbia Basin where they can process potatoes.”
MacIsaac said the processing companies had “all kinds of product” in Washington state but could not ship it to customers.
As a result, they lost business to European competitors.