Potatoes in Canada

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Canada’s potato seed inventory 0.9 per cent below three-year average


Canadian Seed Potato Storage Holdings by Province as of May 1, 2020. Source: UPGC.

Potato seed inventory across Canada is 0.9 per cent below the three-year average at 5.5 million hundredweight (cwt) as of May 1, 2020, according to the United Potato Growers of Canada’s (UPGC) latest update.

UPGC notes that the overall picture for seed stocks is wide ranging with some provinces well above their three-year averages and some provinces below. Seed inventory in Quebec is 18.7 per cent less than its three-year average at 435,000 cwt. Ontario and New Brunswick are also low on seed storage, the provinces are below their three-year averaged by 21.3 per cent and 16.7 per cent respectively.

Manitoba which was dealt two poor harvests two years in a row has seed storage holding that are only 4.5 per cent below the three-year average – which is minimal compared to provinces like Ontario and Quebec.

In contrast, Alberta has more seed inventory than its three-year average. Alberta is sitting at 972,000 cwt in seed potato storage holdings, which is 14.6 per cent higher than its three-year average.

British Columbia and Prince Edward Island are also above-average when it comes to seed inventory. British Columbia has 22.0 per cent more seed potatoes in storage than its three-year average and Prince Edward Island has 10.6 per cent more seed potatoes in storage than its three-year average.

From coast to coast, Western Canada’s seed storages are faring better compared to what they’re used to. Western Canada has 2,117,000 cwt in seed potato storage holdings, or 4.3 per cent above its three-year average. Eastern Canada has 3,406,000 cwt in seed potato storage holdings, which represents 3.8 per cent less than its three-year average. All combined, with the below average numbers from Eastern Canada and the above average numbers from Western Canada, Canada’s seed storage is 0.9 per cent below its three-year average.

UPGC states that some available seed may not get planted this year as seed growers in all provinces are dealing with less demand from growers who are facing reduced contracts because of COVID-19. The processing sector has faced significant reductions in volume as french fry manufacturers react to the effect of COVID-19 slowdowns.

The shift in demand from restaurants to grocery stores is revealing itself in low storage holdings in fresh potatoes and above average holdings for processing potatoes. Fresh storage holdings in Canada are 11.3 per cent below the three-year average, while processing storage holdings in Canada are 4.2 per cent above the three-year average.