US potato imports for the first quarter of the July 2020 – June 2021 marketing year were up 19% in total, according to a news release issued by Potatoes USA.
The organization says this increase was led by a 28% increase in fresh potatoes from Canada, a 20% increase in frozen potatoes, also mainly from Canada and increasing imports from the EU. Imports of dehydrated potatoes saw a 9% decline, though potato chip imports were up 17%. For comparison, imports for the previous marketing year (July 2019 – June 2020) were up 5% overall, led by a 24% increase in dehydrated and a 10% increase in fresh.
Potatoes USA says the increase in fresh potato imports appears mainly for the retail market on the east coast, with Canadian potatoes benefiting from the exchange rate differential and freight advantages. Canada accounts for 90% of all frozen fry imports, but Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany are gaining market share.
Imports of frozen potatoes from Canada increased 17% in the first quarter while imports from Belgium were up 119%, the Netherlands up 35%, and Germany up 110%.
Much of this product is destined for retail channels, but some enters the low-priced foodservice market on the east coast.