Processed Product Spotlight: Growth in Exports of U.S. Potato Products

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The United States is the world’s top exporter of processed potato products. Over the past decade those exports have grown 127 percent, reaching a record $1.5 billion in 2014 and far outpacing growth in U.S. exports of fresh potatoes. Export markets for U.S. potato products have become more diversified in recent years, and sales have been especially strong to new Asian markets. Japan was the top export top destination in 2014, followed by Canada, Mexico, China, and South Korea. 

Line chart comparing value of processed potato exports to fresh potato exports.  Processed potato exports are at nearly $1.5 billion while fresh potato exports are at $200 million.

 

French Fries Dominate U.S. Potato Product Exports

Total U.S. potato exports, including fresh and processed potatoes, reached a record level of nearly $1.7 billion in 2014. Among processed products, French fries accounted for two-thirds of U.S. exports. Exports of French fries have increased 54 percent since 2009, reaching a record $975 million in 2014. Japan was the top destination, buying about a quarter of U.S. exports. 

Potato chips were the second-largest processed potato product exported, totaling $275 million in 2014. Canada was the largest market, buying about half of U.S. exports, followed by Mexico with 15 percent. Growth in potato chip exports has been the slowest among potato products. Other key products exported are potato flakes (valued at $95 million in 2014), frozen potatoes ($25 million), and potato flour ($21 million).

U.S. fresh potato exports have continued to lag, falling by 8 percent in 2014. The top destination for fresh potatoes was Canada.

Bar chart showing the breakout of U.S. potato exports between 2006 and 2014. Exports have risen from $800 million to nearly $1.8 billion mostly due to an increase in  exports of french fries.

U.S. Potato Exports

Product
2009
2014
Increase
French Fries
$635 million
$975 million
+54%
Prepared Potatoes (excluding French Fries)
$53 million
$100 million
+89%
Potato Flakes
$55 million
$95 million
+73%
Frozen Potatoes
$18 million
$25 million
+39%
Potato Flour
$8 million
$21 million
+163%
Potato Chips
$231 million
$275 million
+19%
Total Processed Potato Products
$1000 million
$1490 million
+50%
Fresh Potatoes
$149 million
$199 million
+34%
Total Potato Exports
$1150 million
$1690 million
+55%

U.S. Potato Export Markets Diversify

Historically, the top three markets for U.S. processed potato products have been Japan, Canada and Mexico. Canada has been a stable market, but has seen a slight decline in imports from the United States since 2011, dropping from $227 million to $216 million in 2014. U.S. exports to Mexico, however, have been increasing rapidly, up 42 percent since 2009 to $205 million.

Pie chart showing the destinations for U.S. potato exports.  Japan is the largest at 22%, followed by Canada with 15% and Mexico with 14%.

Sales to Asia have been responsible for the majority of total growth in U.S. processed potato exports in recent years. Although exports to the United States’ top customer, Japan, have remained mostly flat, shipments to a range of other markets have soared. Seven of the top 10 U.S. markets in 2014 were in East and Southeast Asia, including China (where exports have tripled over the past five years), South Korea, Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

Line chart comparing potatoe exports from the U.S. to Japan vs. other asian countries from 2009 to 2014. Exports to Japan have remained steady at just above $300 million while exports to other asian countries have risen to $500 million dollar.