Possible French Fry Shortage Ahead?

Get 'em while you can

We can live without limes for a bit, and even forgo avocados.  But French Fries?  Really?

The problem is potatoes, or the lack of them.  Due to poor weather across the Midwest and Southern Canada, a large chunk of the potato crop was abandoned in the fields.

According to Bloomberg News:

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.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts domestic output will drop 6.1% this year to the lowest since 2010, the agency said in a Nov. 8 report. In Idaho, the top producer, output is forecast to fall 5.5%.

On the other side of the equation, we’ve been eating a lot of fries lately.

Travis Blacker, industry-relations director with the Idaho Potato Commission, said:

“French fry demand has just been outstanding lately, and so supplies can’t meet the demand.”

Not everyone sees a reason to panic.

Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, said:

“It’s a manageable situation.  Potatoes are going to have to move from one channel to another that they sometimes don’t move in a normal year.”

More likely than an actual shortage of french fries is a spike in potato prices.  It might cost a bit more to get the extra large fries, but they’re worth it.

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