February 11, 2021

US frozen potato exports lag during final quarter of ’20

Exports of U.S. frozen potato products were down nearly 11%, year-over-year, during the fourth quarter of 2020. Sales in domestic retail were up, however.

According to the Feb. 10 issue of North American Potato Market News and based on data from the Global Trade Atlas, U.S. frozen exporters sent 533.9 million pounds of product to trade partners around the world during the months of October, November and December 2020. That was down from 599.1 million pounds in 2019, although only down slightly from 2018’s 537.1 million pounds.

The biggest setback came to the Philippines, which has been a rising consumer of U.S. frozen potatoes in recent years. After steady growth from 2017-19, the Philippines intake of product fell 54% during the final quarter of 2020.

Exports to Japan, the U.S. potato industry’s biggest trading partner, were down nearly 6% from 2019, but the 136.6 million pounds in 2020 was only slightly off from 2017 and 2018 levels.

The return of the Mexican market, thanks to reduced tariffs, helped offset losses elsewhere. More 91 million pounds of frozen product was shipped to Mexico during the final quarter, which was up 30% from 2019.

South Korea ranked third in terms of volume at 57.6 million pounds, which was an 8% increase.

Exports to Canada were down 24% from 2019, but close to the same volume of 2017 and 2018.

On the flip side, Canada’s frozen export numbers were up 1.5% to 597.9 million pounds during the quarter, most of which goes to the U.S., which imported 533.9 million pounds from Canada. That was a 5.1% increase from 2019.

— Produce Processing

Frozen, chips, dehy potato sales up in retail sector

Total potato sales in the U.S. retail sector were at five-year record highs for both dollar and volume sales in 2020.

Dollar sales increased by 16% compared to 2019 and all categories, except deli-prepared sides, grew by double-digit dollar sales.

Dehydrated potatoes recorded the highest sales increases in dollars by 30% and volume sales by 25%.

Canned and bottled potatoes saw the second-largest dollar increase at 29%, and frozen potatoes had the second-largest volume increase at 23%. Frozen dollar sales were up 27% to $2.063 billion.

Chips are the largest category in the retail sector both in terms of dollar sales and volume. Dollar sales were up 11.1% in 2020 to $6.628 billion and volume was up 6% to 5.370 billion pounds.

The largest growth in dollar and volume sales for potatoes occurred from April through June, although all months grew by over 9% for both metrics.

These figures are compiled by IRI.

— Potatoes USA

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