Potato Fries Situation and Outlook
- In 2000/01, frozen potato fry exports
from the 3 major exporting countries, the United
States, the Netherlands, and Canada, are forecast
at a record 2.3 million tons, 2.5 percent above
the previous years shipments. All three
countries are expected to register export gains
in 2000/01 with Canada leading the trio in export
growth. Canadas exports are forecast to
increase 13 percent in 2000/01 to 700,000 tons.
Canadian exports have experienced double-digit
growth rates for the past several years largely
due to the expanding domestic processing industry
and favorable exchange rates. U.S. frozen potato
fry exports were $338,315 million and 463,890
tons in 1999/2000, almost double the volume and
twice the value of just 6 years ago. U.S. fry
exports are forecast to increase 5 percent in
2000/01. Rising per capita incomes in many
countries, expansion by multinational fast food
companies, and Market Access Program activities,
are expected to continue to spur demand for
frozen potato fries. The Netherlands
exports of frozen potato fries in 1999/2000 were
1.113 million tons and are forecast at 1.065
million tons for 2000/01.
- United States
- The U.S. potato crop is
estimated at 21.7 million tons for 1999/00, up slightly
from last years crop of 21.6 million tons.
Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, Colorado, and California
had increases in production while Idaho and North Dakota
experienced a decline in production. The Western states
account for almost 70 percent of total U.S. potato
production, with Idaho and Washington being the two
- About 57 percent of U.S.
potato production was processed, of which 29 percent was
used to produce frozen potato fries. Today, Russet
Burbank is the main variety grown for the production of
frozen potato fries. The food service sector accounts for
90 percent of U.S. frozen potato fry consumption while
retail accounts for the remaining 10 percent. With a
relatively large U.S. potato crop and a steady domestic
demand for fries, U.S. frozen potato fry production in
2000/01 is forecast at 3.5 million tons, up from last
years level of 3.4 million tons. Over the past five
years, U.S. production of frozen potato fries has
increased over 2 percent annually.
- After a decade of record
export gains, exports in 1999/2000 were 463,890 tons,
down from the previous years level of 473,238 tons.
While the U.S. dominates the Japanese market with an 87
percent market share, there was a drop in U.S. frozen
potato fry exports to Japan in 1999/2000 after a decade
of strong growth. In 2000/01, U.S. exports of frozen
fries are projected to increase to 485,000 tons (or 14
percent of domestic fry production), up slightly from the
previous year of 463,890 tons.
- The top 5 U.S. potato fry
markets accounted for nearly 74 percent of 1999/2000
shipments. These countries include Japan with 49 percent
of total exports; Mexico and South Korea at 7 percent;
Hong Kong at 6 percent, and Taiwan at 5 percent. The
United States also exports to Europe, but the outlook for
U.S. exports of frozen potato fries to this market in the
2000/01 season is dim, due to adequate supplies of fries
in Europe. U.S. exports generally occur when potatoes are
in short supply in Europe, such as in 1998/99, when U.S.
fry exports to the European Union were 16,010 tons. In
general, transportation costs for frozen potato fries
from the U.S. Pacific Northwest are far too high to be
- Expansion of the
international fast food industry, product quality, rising
incomes in many countries, and ongoing Market Access
Program activities have all played a role in stimulating
demand for U.S. frozen potato fries. Export prospects for
the next decade are very promising given the sustained
expansion of the international fast food industry.
- The Dutch potato crop was
5.9 million tons for 1999/2000, up 76 percent from last
years crop, which was affected by poor weather. The
harvest expectations for the Dutch 2000 potato crop are
excellent given favorable growing conditions. Dutch
potato growers are expected to harvest a crop, estimated
at 6.0 million tons, a slight increase from the previous
year. The acreage for the "bintje" variety, the
potato used by Dutch potato fry producers, is expected to
decline in the near future. The "bintje"
variety has always been preferred by processors because
it is relatively simple to cultivate and can be used for
multiple purposes. However, Dutch processors are
increasingly relying on other varieties rather than the
"bintje" variety due to its quality and crop
uncertainty, insufficient length, and increasing consumer
concerns of heavy reliance on pesticides.
- The Netherlands has the
largest industrial frozen potato fry production in Europe
with frozen fry production for 1999/2000 at 1.19 million
tons, a 9.6 percent decline from the previous year. The
production of frozen potato fries for 2000/01 is forecast
at 1.150 million tons. Frozen potato fry production
accounts for 80 percent of total processing, while dried
products, snack and various other products make up the
remaining 20 percent.
- The Netherlands is by far
the largest exporter of frozen potato fries. In
1999/2000, Dutch exports totaled 1.113 million tons and
for 2000/01 exports are forecast at 1.065 million tons.
The industry depends largely on export demand, as almost
95 percent of production is sold in foreign markets --
mostly in the European Union (EU). The United Kingdom,
Germany, France, and Italy account for 75 percent of
Dutch exports. Albeit shipments to non-EU countries are
very small, exports to these countries have more than
doubled over the past three years.
- Imports of frozen potato
fries into the Netherlands have remained small,
accounting for less than 5 percent of total Dutch supply.
- Reacting to strong domestic
and foreign demand for frozen potato fries, Canadian
potato farmers continue to expand planted area. Western
Canada potato area has demonstrated rapid growth
throughout the 1990's, led by Manitoba and Alberta. The
prairie region now accounts for nearly one-quarter of
total Canadian potato output, up significantly from just
ten years ago. Albertas acreage alone has increased
7,000 acres in 2000. The total Canadian potato harvest
for the 2000 crop year is estimated at 4.253 million
tons, slightly higher than the previous year.
- The production of frozen
potato fries in Canada continues to show strong
expansion. Canadas fry production rose 12 percent
in 1999/2000 to 1,020,000 tons and is forecast to
increase more than 10 percent to 1.12 million tons for
2000/01. Much of the increase reflects the startup of
state-of-the-art potato processing plants in Alberta and
Manitoba. The outlook for 2000/01 is for a further
increase in Canadian frozen potato fry production as
processors continue to invest heavily in new potato
processing plants in the western provinces.
- Canadian frozen potato fry
producers increasingly depend on exports for additional
sales. Exports in 1990/00 increased 20 percent to a
record 618,978 tons, reflecting expansion of frozen
potato fry capacity in the western provinces and
increased production for export to the United States and
other markets. Canadian exports to the United States
accounted for more than 85 percent of total frozen potato
fry exports in marketing year 1999/2000. During this
period, exports of fries to the United States grew 24
percent to 525,291 tons, valued at C$534 million.
Canadian fry exports are forecast at 700,000 tons for
2000/01 and are expected to continue at double-digit
growth rates for the near future. Construction of new
processing facilities, contracts to supply major U.S.
fast food companies, and a lower valued Canadian dollar
continue to fuel the growth in export demand. Other
Canadian export markets include Japan, the Philippines,
Venezuela, and Taiwan. Exports to most major markets
advanced strongly, with Mexico accounting for a
138-percent increase. An increase in exports to Japan is
expected given Canadas competitive prices.
- Canadian imports of U.S.
frozen potato fries fell sharply in 1999/2000, reflecting
a weak Canadian dollar and lower demand resulting from
increased domestic production.
- Japanese production of
frozen potatoes is relatively small and continues to
decline as farmers focus on the more profitable fresh
market. In 1999/2000, less than 2 percent of Japans
total potato crop was processed. Hokkaido, northern
islands of Japan, accounts for over 80 percent of the
nations fresh potato production.
- In 1999/2000, frozen potato
fry imports were 265,000 tons, down from the previous
years level of 273,980 tons. Japanese traders of
frozen potato products anticipate a slight increase in
export shipments at 270,000 tons for the upcoming year.
- As elsewhere in the world,
most fries (nearly 70 percent) in Japan are consumed at
international fast food chains, followed by family
restaurants, convenience stores, and supermarkets. Japan
has more than 6,500 fast food shops. One international
food chain consumes over 50 percent of the nations
frozen potato fries or 120,000 tons annually through its
3,400 outlets nationwide. Japans 5,500 family
restaurants also consume a significant volume of frozen
potato fries (approximately 15 percent), featured
throughout the year in their western style menus.
Japans sales of "ready-to-eat" fries
through convenience stores are growing rapidly with more
stores handling this product. Sales of frozen potato
fries through this sector are estimated at 5 percent of
total distribution. Japans home consumption of
frozen potato fries through supermarkets is fairly small
(approximately 10 percent of total distribution).
- The FAS Attache Report
search engine contains reports on the Frozen Potato Fry
industries for 4 countries, including, Canada, the
Netherlands, Japan, and Taiwan. For further information
on supply, distribution, trade, and U.S. marketing
opportunities, contact Ted Goldammer at 202-720-8498.)
Last modified: Sunday, March 17, 2013