Potato Industry Announces Historic Market Access Success

Published online: Feb 02, 2006 National Potato Council/US Potato Board
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The National Potato Council and United States Potato Board are extremely pleased to announce that after over 25 years of effort, the U.S. potato industry has achieved market access for U.S. chipping potatoes to Japan.

Access was granted due to the shortage of chipping potatoes that occurs in Japan each spring, therefore access is limited to the February - June period. This access is based on a strict processing protocol that requires the potatoes to be processed into potato chips at approved plants in Japan.

This opening was made possible in part because of the close cooperation between the USPB and the Japan Potato Chip Manufacturers Association (JPCMA), which did a great deal of work within Japan. The U.S. effort was carried out through the "Phytosanitary Initiative," which employs Bryant Christie Inc. and is funded by the USPB, NPC, and state potato organizations.

State potato grower organizations played a key role in assisting with Japanese Ministry of Agriculture (MAFF) visits to the United States and advising on the protocol development. Additional funding for work, both in the United States and Japan, particularly the work of the USPB representative in Japan, Uniflex Marketing, was provided by the USDA - administered Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) grants.

"The industry would have never achieved its goal without the outstanding work by APHIS personnel both in the United States and Tokyo, especially the Deputy Director for Phytosanitary Issues Management and her staff," asserted John Keeling, NPC executive vice president and CEO. "We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the U.S. Agricultural Counselor at the Embassy in Tokyo as well as the rest of the Foreign Agricultural Service staff in Tokyo and the United States." Further assistance was provided by the Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Trade Respresentative staff in Washington, DC.

Keeling continued, "The U.S. industry would also like to thank the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture for ist diligent work and cooperation with the U.S. government in reaching this science-based agreement."

To help the Japanese chip manufacturers fully meet the shortfalls experienced each year, the USPB and NPC will continue to work on the full implementation of this market access agreement, including the expansion of the number of states allowed to ship to Japan from the initial 14. In Japan the JPCMA will work with MAFF to expand the number of processing plants approved beyond the initial one.

"Exports in the first year will be very limited since there will only be one processor in Japan approved to import and they will be doing so on a trial basis," explains John Toaspern, USPB vice president , international marketing. "As the result of a reverse trade mission hosted by the USPB this past summ, that processor has lined up a very limited number of suppliers in the United States for these initial test shipments."

Toapspern noted that it is important for the U.S. potato industry to fully understand the provisions of the import protocol. "The protocol relates to all aspects of the production and distribution process including: seed, field inspections, storage, soil removal, packing and shipping. There are even more detailed requirements, to which the potato chip processors must adhere, once the potatoes arrive in Japan but which U.S. growers and shippers need to be aware."

Please contact the USPB or the NPC for further details and a copy of the import protocol. USPB (303) 369-7783: John Toaspern - johnt@uspotatoes.com or Sarah Mahler - sarah@uspotatoes.com NPC (202) 682-9456: John Keeling - johnk@nationalpotatocouncil.org