canada potato supply

Canada has a potato supply problem and eating more fries probably won't solve it

Stay at home. Wash your hands. Donate any PPE you may have to frontline healthcare workers. Eat more french fries...?

We're all being asked to do what we can in the fight against a global pandemic that has so far killed over 3,000 Canadians, and as widespread lockdowns wear on across the country, so too do the demands placed upon everyday citizens to step up.

Canada is currently trying to deal with a massive surplus of potatoes on account of declining demand from restaurants and fast-food joints, which together normally account for three-quarters of all Canadian potato consumption.

People don't seem to want fries as much, it seems, when they know they'll be sitting in a takeout bag on the back of someone's bike for an hour.

The National Post reports that some 200 million pounds of french fry potatoes — a specific type of tater produced solely for the purpose of becoming fries — are currently stuck in storage across Canada, and are at risk of being thrown out this fall when the next harvest comes around.

Unless they can be eaten, that is.

Farmers in Canada, unlike those in Belgium, are not yet actively campaigning to get people eating more french fries, but experts say even if every family were to eat potatoes twice a week (as Belgians are being encouraged to), it wouldn't be enough.

Kevin MacIsaac, general manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, told The Post this week "putting a dent in the surplus is a daunting task that will likely take more than a twice-weekly commitment from Canadian potato lovers."

The average farm can store about 80,000 ten-pound bags of potatoes, according to MacIsaac — a large volume to move without huge restaurant orders in the mix.

It remains to be seen if this surplus will drive down the price of fries, but it likely won't impact potato chips: MacIsaac told the post that chip sales are up 23 per cent right now compared to the same time last year. 

Inferior as even the best of potato chips may be to good french fries, chips don't get soggy after 15 minutes. This, I believe, is their saving grace.

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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