Canadian growers optimistic

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Canadian potato growers are feeling optimistic about the future, despite being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, it has been revealed.

In Alberta, supplies were decimated in the spring because of Covid-19, but this has not stopped growers banking on a healthy harvest.

In an interview with the Edmonton Journal, Russell Van Boom, who grows seeds potatoes for farmers near Fort Saskatchewan, said he planted 90% of his crops this year compared to last. He was anticipating slower demand come harvest time after processing plants and restaurants were temporarily closed or operating at reduced capacity to comply with health orders.

Executive director of Potato Growers of Alberta, Terrence Hochstein, said the pandemic has cost seed potato farmers in the province between $4.5 million and $5 million in lost revenue. Alberta’s processing industry in terms of french fry production has decreased about 20% this season compared to last, or approximately 7,500 acres.

In April, the hit to the french fry market was closer to 80% while restaurants were forced to shut their doors. That decrease saw the industry urge Canadians to eat french fries at home to stop potatoes from going to waste.

Terrence said seed growers had to calculate how hard they would get hit and plant accordingly. Potato processing plants are beginning to get back to full capacity and an increase in demand for ordering in or taking out food from restaurants has helped to offset some of the losses during the lockdown.