Report: US may face French fry shortage, higher prices due to poor potato crop

The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts potato output will drop 6.1 percent this year, the lowest since 2010. (Source: CNN)

(Gray News/CNN) - Cold, wet weather in key locations for potato production across the United States and Canada could lead to higher prices and a shortage of French fries, Bloomberg reports.

Cool conditions in October lashed potatoes with frost in growing regions like Idaho, North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada. Some crops in North Dakota and Minnesota had to be abandoned due to snow and rain, according to Bloomberg.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts potato output will drop 6.1 percent this year, the lowest since 2010.

The United Potato Growers of Canada estimates about 18 percent of Manitoba’s planted area was left unharvested. That amount is equal to what was abandoned for the entire country last season.

Worse still, crop damage means the potatoes’ growth has been stunted. Retailers rely on long potatoes to make French fries, but there may not be enough of those to go around.

“French fry demand has just been outstanding lately, and so supplies can’t meet the demand,” said Travis Blacker, industry-relations director with the Idaho Potato Commission, in a phone interview with Bloomberg.

Bloomberg reports it’s likely potato prices could soon climb across North America, according to Stephen Nicholson, a senior grains and oilseeds analyst at Rabobank.

Potato processors in the U.S. have turned to foreign producers to help make up the loss.

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