Published online: Sep 05, 2008 Alan Harman
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American exports of frozen, fresh, dehydrated, chip and seed potatoes and potato products rose 11.35 percent to $1.11 billion in the marketing year to June for the fifth consecutive year of export growth.

The USPB reports the volume of exports increased 10.28 percent for a total of 1.2 million tonnes. The fresh weight equivalent of these exports comes to 53.4 million cwt.

The increases were led by continued growth in the largest export category, frozen potatoes, which grew by 12 percent to 760,355 tonnes. The category's value rose 20 percent to more than  $655 million.

The growth was led by substantial increases to the USPB's target markets in Asia.

Japan, the largest export market, with 38 percnet of total frozen exports, grew 6 percent to 269,105 tonnes.

The highest rates of growth were in Southeast Asia where sales to Malaysia were up 69 percent, Thailand up 32 percent, Indonesia up 31percent and the Philippines up 12 percent. Combined exports to China and Hong Kong rose 22 percent to 76,877 tonnes.

Sales of specialty products helped frozen exports to South Korea grow by 21 percent to 33,976 tonnes. Exports to Mexico fell 7 percent to 84,112 tonnes, mostly attributable to very low priced retail product from Canada and the European Union.

Exports of fresh potatoes (table-stock and chip-stock) increased by 15 percent to 293,230 tonnes worth $135 million. The growth mainly came from Mexico and Canada. Canada accounts for 59 percent of total fresh exports and grew by 4 percent last year.

Mexico is the second largest market. Despite the restrictions on exports to the 26-kilometer frontier zone, exports still grew 23 percent to 56,588 tonnes worth $26 million.

The board's target markets in Asia, while much smaller, also imported increased quantities of fresh U.S. potatoes. The growth was led by fresh potato exports of 12,989 tonnes to South Korea for a 448 percent increase and by 16,000 tonnes to Taiwan for a 28 percent increase.

The largest percentage increase was 769 percent as more than 5,000 tonnes of chipping potatoes were exported to the Philippines. Thailand is also a new and growing chip-stock market with exports up 223 percent to 2,733 tonnes.

Malaysian imports of both chip-stock and table-stock saw an increase of 74 percent to 7,395 tonnes. Hong Kong and Singapore are mainly table-stock markets and experienced growth of 5 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

"Despite the short supplies and significantly higher prices, exports to the USPB's target markets in Asia were able to remain stable due to strong demand in these markets," the board said in a statement.

Dehydrated potato exports were the only category registering a decline during the year as reduced supplies in the U.S. restricted availability for the foreign markets.

Total exports were down 12 percent by volume to 88,963 tonnes with value off 7 percent to $132 million. The biggest decline was in exports to Mexico, down 50 percent as demand from the Frito-Lay Stax plant dried up.

Seed potato exports remained at roughly the same level with a slight increase to 11,203 tonnes valued at $6 million. There was good growth in the Board's target markets of Nicaragua and Uruguay and the board reported first-ever exports of U.S. seed potatoes to Brazil and Sri Lanka.