A poor potato harvest in the U.S. and a number of prairie provinces, could make french fries harder to find in the near future.
That’s according to a report in American business publication Bloomberg on Monday, which says wet, cold weather caused serious damage to crops here in Manitoba, as well as in U.S. states like Idaho.
That report’s author, Canadian agriculture reporter Ashley Robinson, told 680 CJOB producers may not be able to meet the demand for fries this year.
“The prices may increase. There’s going to be less available. There still will be fries out there, there’s still potatoes,” said Robinson.
“There’s just going to be a tighter squeeze on it, so prices are going to increase — except if you’re looking at getting your McDonald’s fries. Those prices are set in advance, so they won’t be increasing there, but they could at your grocery store.”
Robinson said Manitoba is the second-largest producer of potatoes in Canada after Prince Edward Island, with Alberta right behind.
“This year we actually increased our acreage because of the (Portage la Prairie) Simplot expansion, but after that horrible snowstorm we saw over the Thanksgiving weekend and the subsequent weather we saw throughout October, a lot of those potatoes ended up in the fields.”
Approximately 12,000 acres were left out this year, she said — around 18 per cent of Manitoba’s harvest.
Idaho and other U.S. states weren’t hit quite as hard by weather as Manitoba, and will be sending some of their crops north.
But Robinson said you can’t just use any old spud to make french fries.
“Potatoes come in all different sizes, and because of that, they’re destined for different uses,” she said.
“French fry potatoes are usually a bit longer… potatoes that would be used for potato chips don’t have as many specifications, so there’s actually some potatoes that would be destined for potato chips that will be going to french fries instead, so fries might be a bit shorter now.”