If you love French Fries, you better eat them while you can; a stretch of poor weather has lead to a significant shortage of potatoes in North America, which could leave your local deep fryer empty of the delicious spuds. Unusually cold and wet conditions in both the United States and Canada destroyed crops, putting a big crunch on the availability of potatoes on the market.
Cool conditions started to impact growing regions in October, harming potatoes with frost. Farmers in Alberta and Idaho were able to dig up some damaged crops for storage, but farmers in Manitoba, Canada, and North Dakota and Minnesota received snow and rain, forcing them to abandon large quantities of their crops. Early government reports from both the United States and Canada show significant drops in potato production. With french fry demand higher than usual, a decrease in potato supplies matched with an increase in demand will lead to shortages. According to a report issued last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts domestic output will drop 6.1% this year to the lowest since 2010. Idaho, famous for its namesake potato, and the top producer in the country, is expecting output to fall 5.5%. In Idaho, the top producer, output is forecast to fall 5.5%. The United Potato Growers of Canada estimates that about 18% of Manitoba’s planted area were left unharvested while 6.5% of Alberta’s potatoes are estimated to be frost damaged. Canada expects to issue an update on the potato crop situation on Friday.
The cold, wet conditions have lead to smaller than usual potatoes to be harvested. French fry producers typically prefer longer potatoes from which they can cut french fries from; small potatoes mean less fries.
Some are suggesting that Americans try baked cauliflower fries as an alternative. Real Food From the Ground Up brand is selling “cauliflower stalks” as a french fry replacement while Green Giant brand is producing “Veggie Tots” which resemble potato tater tots but are made out of cauliflower instead. Birds Eye brand also serves a less-potato-dependent fry made primarily of cauliflower; it calls them “Veggie Made Cauliflower Fries.”