Fruit & Vegetable Magazine

News Harvesting
Canadian potato production is up overall, but not enough for industry expansions


December 17, 2019
By Potatoes in Canada

Topics

Potato production in Canada is up, but not at levels it needs to be to meet growing demand for potato products.

Statistics Canada, in a Dec. 6, 2019 update, estimated Canadian potato production in 2019 to be up by 2.4 per cent or 2,472,000 hundred weight above the five-year average. While the increase is still good news overall, more potatoes were expected.

Two notable expansions were planned for the end of 2019 that increased the demand for potato products. Canadian growers planted an additional 3.7 per cent, or 13,000 acres to meet expansion requirements. First, Cavendish Farms’ newest potato processing plant, which will require an increase of almost 12,000-acres from current contracts, opened in Lethbridge, Alta. on Oct. 3, 2019. Second, J.R. Simplot Company’s (Simplot) french fry processing plant in Portage la Prairie, Man. is expected to be fully operational in 2020.

Unfortunately, poor harvest conditions, particularly in Western Canada, have resulted in 20,296 acres being abandoned in farmers fields, said Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada (UPGC), in an update. This is after, MacIsaac continued, what was considered a precedent in 2018, when an early onset of winter resulted in 18,049 acres being left in the ground across the country from P.E.I. to B.C.

While more potatoes were planted, more were left unharvested. MacIsaac said the net increase in production is much less than what the industry actually desired.

Despite this, yields are up and continue to surpass the five-year average in Canada.

See the map below to see how production has increased (green) or decreased (red) from the province’s five-year average. Hover your mouse over each province to see 2019 estimates for potato production: