WASHINGTON: Exports of all United States potatoes and potato products reached a record $1,758,130,172 for the July 2016 – June 2017 marketing year. U.S. exports also achieved a record volume level of 1,712,364 metric tons (MT). At their fresh weight equivalent (FWE), this represents the movement of 71,837,331 hundredweight of potatoes out of the U.S. market, which is approximately 20% of U.S. potato production for the marketing year. There were increases for nearly all products from the previous marketing year, with the largest gain coming for seed potatoes up 97%, although these figures do get mixed up by miss classification of fresh potato exports. Fresh potato exports at 491,716 MT were up 9%, potato chip exports up 5% to 52,103 MT and frozen products up 3% to 1,026,429 MT. Exports of dehydrated potatoes were down 10% to 122,063 MT after suffering significant declines for the first half of the marketing year. Frozen exports account for 60% of the total exports at the FWE, dehy at 24% and fresh 15%. Japan remains the largest export market, with Canada a very close second. Based on the FWE volume for all products, exports to Japan were 680,264 MT valued at $363 million while Canada received 635,463 MT valued at $298 million.
Mexico was not far behind with 527,464 MT valued at $237 million. Korea is now fourth at $109 million with China fifth at $107 million. With world-wide trade in potatoes and potato products averaging 8% annual growth, there remains significant opportunities for U.S. exports to continue to grow. Future growth challenges include the strong U.S. dollar, increasing competition from the European Union and the lack of new trade deals for U.S. products. However, prospects still look good for U.S. exports as the dollar has weakened over the past six-months and U.S. processors are expanding capacity while ongoing efforts could increase access for U.S. fresh potatoes to a number of markets. Additionally, the high quality of U.S. potatoes and products sets them apart and Potatoes USA international marketing programs distinguish U.S. products and create new demand.