Canadian Potatoes ‘Going South’

Published online: May 17, 2002
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It may not be the first time processors have brought Canadian potatoes across the international boundary line for processing but this time it sure has the Pacific Northwest industry upset.

McCain Foods-USA admitted it is bringing in five days worth of production from Coaldale, AB, to its processing plant in Othello, WA.

“It is a measure to balance both location’s raw product requirements,” McCain’s statement read.

McCain does not plan to bring additional potatoes in to the United States in 2003. McCain points out that Lamb-Weston, an ConAgra-owned corporation, has brought potatoes to its Columbia Basin, WA, location over the last two years.

“It seems to me Canada is two-faced about this. When they ran short a year ago, Manitoba blocked the shipment of Washington potatoes into Alberta, quoting some provincial law that they must utilize Canadian potatoes before bringing in imported potatoes,” Keith Esplin, executive director of the Potato Growers of Idaho, said.

“Now we hear they are bringing in 9,000 tons to Othello when their Alberta plant is only running four days a week. It makes you wonder if they are doing this to keep from paying our prices and to break our market,” Esplin continued.