PEI processing potatoes head to Alberta


26 January 2022
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A PEI company has brokered a deal to send as many as 700 tractor trailer loads of surplus PEI processing potatoes to a french fry plant in Alberta, according to the following report by CBC.

The deal was put together by Terry Curley of Monaghan Farms, who is part of a working group set up to deal with the potato wart crisis. 

"Anything leaving PEI is a help. There's no question about that. We as an industry could have as many as 10,000 tractor trailer loads we're going to have to destroy here whenever that may happen," he said. 

"This order here is probably in the range of 700 tractor trailers, so it's a help, but not even 10% of what we're going to have to get rid of. The US market is the big one." 

Terry said before the border was closed on Nov. 21, there had been interest from American companies in bringing in processing potatoes from P.E.I.

"Our local processor, as we understand it, have everything they need, and because of the strong growing year and the quality, as good as it was, there was an opportunity here to move potatoes to the Pacific Northwest," he said in an interview with CBC.

"We did it about 10 or 11 years ago into Pasco, Washington, through the states. So they contacted us and we were asked to help put this together."

Because of the export ban, the Island potatoes will head to Taber, Alta., instead, to a plant owned by Lamb Weston — one of the world's largest processors of frozen french fries, with headquarters in Idaho.

"The only reason we are getting into the western provinces is they went through a drought, and they don't have the potatoes and that's opened up a market," Terry told the news station.

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Monaghan Farms sells potatoes that are processed into potato chips, so it has a quality control lab and other equipment to make the Alberta deal possible. 

Terry, along with his son Derek, has started visiting warehouses, talking to growers and bringing back samples for testing. 

"The first and foremost thing would be the colour. We will fry them for the colour specs that a french fryer needs," said Curley. 

"We have fryers, and sugar analysis machines, and things for measuring the gravity of the potatoes." 

said the Alberta deal won't help growers who have warehouses full of table stock and seed potatoes, which can't be made into french fries. 

"Those varieties won't work for processing because they were stored in too cold a temperature and they weren't grown for the french fry market, so they won't colour,"  Curley said.

"If they don't colour, they won't make what this company is looking to do. So it has to be really good colour and, unfortunately, the others won't work."

Source and photo: CBC/Alex MacIsaac

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