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Record U.S. potato exports

U.S. potato exports once again reached a record value and volume for the July 2018 to June 2019 marketing year. The total value of exports was $1.827 billion, up 1 percent from the previous marketing year. Total export volume was 1.73 metric tons, up 2.3 percent. potatoesusa

The fresh weight equivalent volume was 73 million hundredweight. Frozen potato products, at 1.7 million fresh weight equivalent metric tons, accounted for 53 percent of total exports but were down 0.1 percent. Dehydrated potatoes, at 842,446 fresh weight equivalent metric tons, were up 2.7 percent and accounted for 25 percent of the total. Fresh potatoes, made up of table-stock, chip-stock and processing potatoes, were up 6.2 percent to 508,626 metric tons and accounted for 15 percent of the total. Potato chip exports accounted for 6 percent of the total and were up 0.8 percent to 197,764 fresh weight equivalent metric tons.

The top market for U.S. exports was once again Japan at $359 million. Due to significant U.S. exports of fresh potatoes destined for processing into frozen products, Canada was a close second at $319 million. Mexico was the third-most-important market at $239 million, but was down 13 percent due to a 21 percent decline in frozen exports. South Korea was the fourth-largest market valued at $124 million with growth of 16 percent. The Philippines was fifth at $106 million up 13 percent.

A number of issues and situations held back U.S. exports from further increasing, despite strong growth in world demand and a short crop in the European Union, the main competitor. One of the main reasons was the strong domestic demand for potatoes, particularly frozen and dehy and the static supply of these products in the U.S. Another was the imposition of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products by Mexico and China.

Mexico instituted a 20 percent tariff on U.S. frozen fries in June 2018. This resulted in a 25 percent decline in the volume (37,774 metric tons) and 21 percent decline in the value ($33 million) of frozen exports to Mexico for MY19. China implemented a 10 percent tariff on U.S. fries and a 25 percent tariff on U.S. dehy in September, these resulted in a 10 percent decline ($9.57 million) in frozen and 68 percent decline ($3.37 million) in dehy exports. The continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar, up 2.9 percent compared to the Euro for the marketing year, also contributed by raising the relative cost of U.S. potatoes.

U.S. potato exports have grown 9 percent over the past five marketing years and should be poised for further growth in the coming year. Additional frozen capacity has and is coming online in the U.S. and additional acers were contracted for by the processors. The impediments to growth will be increased competition from the E.U. as production is forecast to return to normal in 2019 and the new free trade agreements in place in major U.S. export markets for the E.U. and Canada.