By the Numbers

U.S. exports top $1.5 billion

Published in the November 2012 Issue Published online: Nov 12, 2012 John Toaspern, VP, USPB International Marketing

U.S. exports of all potatoes and potato products for FY12 (July 2011 to June 2012) were valued at $1,583,563,167. This is a 10 percent increase in volume and a 17 percent increase in value over the previous marketing year. The export volume was 1,506,557 metric tons (MT), or 65,271,616 cwt on a fresh weight equivalent (FWE) basis.

Exports of frozen potato products for FY12 were $989,261,082, up 22 percent, with volume and up 17 percent to 905,941 MT or 19,972,375 cwt at the fresh weight equivalent (FWE). Japan is the largest export market at 300,528 MT (11,263,248 cwt FWE) with an increase of 5 percent in FY12. China is now the second-largest market for U.S. exports, up 57 percent to 99,219 MT (3,718,550 cwt FWE). Exports to Mexico were up 31 percent to 80,180 MT (3,002,304 cwt FWE). Exports increased 18 percent to Korea to 61,488 MT (2,304,460 cwt FWE), a 23 percent increase to Malaysia to 33,734 MT (1,264,290 cwt FWE), 6 percent to the Philippines to 31,808 MT (1,192,107 cwt FWE) and 3 percent to Central America to 33,810 MT (1,267,138 cwt FWE).

Exports of fresh potatoes were valued at $204,490,379, an increase of 10 percent, with volume at 407,114 MT, or 8,981,087 cwt, up only 2 percent. Fresh exports, which include table-stock potatoes but also fresh potatoes destined for chipping or freezing, were hampered by a 12 percent decline in shipments to Canada, the largest U.S. market. Exports to the second-largest market, Mexico, rose 10 percent to 72,159 MT, or 1,590,817 cwt. Exports to Central America grew 32 percent to 8,010 MT, or 176,588 cwt, while shipments to the Board's target markets in Asia increased 59 percent to 64,888 MT, or 1,430,520 cwt. Additionally, Korea grew 46 percent to 19,823 MT, or 437,017 cwt thanks to strong demand for chippers and the opening of the table-stock market as a result of the US-Korea FTA.

Exports of dehydrated potato products were $192,678,610, an increase of 11 percent with volume of 117,259 MT (16,822,085 cwt FWE). Sales to Canada, the largest market, were up 10 percent to 33,562 MT (4,809,401 cwt FWE). Japan was the second-largest market at 22,220 MT (3,184,103 cwt FWE), up 12 percent, while Mexico was No. 3 at 21,617 MT (3,097,694 cwt FWE). Exports to Africa, mainly through USDA purchases for international food aid programs, but with some commercial sales as well, increased 90 percent to 1,136 MT (167,788 cwt FWE).

Seed potato statistics are unreliable as seed is sometimes classified as fresh and sometimes fresh is classified as seed. According to USDA, U.S. exports declined 3 percent to 22,731 MT (501,128 cwt), valued at $10,324,070. Based on the known sales to the Board's target markets for seed, exports increased 46 percent to 3,031 MT (66,821 cwt). These gains were led by a 624 percent increase to Sri Lanka to 156 MT (3,439 cwt), a 211 percent increase to Nicaragua to 950 MT (20,944 cwt), a 144 percent increase to Uruguay to 975 MT (21,495 cwt) and a 121 percent increase to the DR to 725 MT (15,983 cwt).

The outlook for continued growth in U.S. exports in FY13 is very good as it appears that the U.S. will have ample supplies of potatoes to meet all international demand, and that some of our major competitors such as the EU will be short on supply.

Problems with market access, particularly for fresh and seed potatoes could limit sales to some markets, but the pending market access breakthroughs with Mexico and the Philippines for fresh, and Egypt for seed potatoes, could create huge opportunities for U.S. growers and shippers. 

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