Total U.S. potato exports for the July 2015 to June 2016 marketing year grew 4% in value to $1,693,395,167, the second highest level on record. The fresh weight equivalent (fwe) volume of exports increased 6% to 3,219,892 metric tons (MT) or 70,985,739 hundredweight (cwt).
This growth was led by increases in the volume of exports of frozen potato products up 11%, fresh potatoes up 8%, potato chips up 3% and seed potatoes up 6%. The only category to decline was dehydrated potatoes down 3%. Frozen potato products are still the dominate export item accounting for 52% of the total with dehydrated potatoes second at 27%.
The conclusion of the West Coast port delays, improved market access, and Potatoes USA promotional programs helped U.S. exports. Growth was tempered by the strong U.S. dollar, both relative to competitors and to the export markets, continued market access restrictions particularly for fresh potatoes and increased competition from the European Union due to expanding processing capacity there.
For the July 2015 through June 2016 marketing year, the volume of frozen product exports was 992,707 metric tons valued at $1.1 billion. The top five export destinations were: Japan 246,082 MT up 9%, Mexico 126,508 MT down less than one percent, China 118,670 MT up 58%, South Korea 89,975 MT up 13% and the Philippines 49,944 MT up 3%.
Exports of dehydrated potatoes were down 6% to 134,780 MT valued at $200 million. This is still the second highest level on record with much of the decline occurring in May and June 2016. The top five export destinations were as follows: Canada 38,204 MT up 9%, Japan 27,258 MT down 19%, Mexico 24,112 MT up 2%, the Philippines 8,436 MT up 98% and China 7,176 MT down 8%.
Fresh potato exports were up 8% to 441,990 MT valued at $183 million. Fresh exports include table-stock as well as chip-stock and fresh potatoes destined for frozen processing. The top five export destinations were as follows: Canada 213,411 MT up 10%, Mexico 93,323 MT up 13%, Japan (all chip-stock) 36,208 MT up 108%, Taiwan 19,860 up 18%, and South Korea (all chip-stock) 15,026 down 38%.
Exports of potato chips, which are mainly fabricated chips, were up 3% to 49,521 MT valued at $192 million. Mexico is the largest market at 14,932 MT up 3% and Canada 12,168 MT up 2%. Seed potato exports were up 14% to 15,095 MT valued at $7 million. However, these figures are not 100% accurate as fresh potatoes are sometimes misclassified as seed and vice a versa.
Prospects for continued growth in U.S. exports look good as worldwide demand for potatoes and potato products continues to grow, however, the strong dollar and increased competition will continue to moderate this growth. The National Potato Council will continue to work on market access issues and Potatoes USA is expanding its international marketing and promotion programs.
These programs are partially funded by USDA Market Access Program, Emerging Markets Program, Quality Samples Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program funds obtained through the Foreign Agriculture Service.