Unusually cold, wet potato harvest season may lead to French fry shortage

French fries

French fries

Even Idaho, the top producer in the US, is forecast to fall 5.5% in potato production.

Cold weather has led to a potato shortage in the United States, threatening the availability of French fries, Bloomberg has reported. Manitoba and Alberta are the second- and third-largest growers in Canada, respectively, and the government is expected to release crop estimates Friday.

Cold weather and the impact of Hurricane Dorian have damaged potato crops in the United States and Canada, experts have warned.

In some places, harvests were lost altogether, Bloomberg said, while frosts also stunted the growth of the long potatoes that are preferable for making french fries.

"Production of potatoes for the 2019 crop year is forecast at 422 million cwt [22.4 million tons], down 6% from last year", the Department of Agriculture said on November 8.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says adversarial weather put a strain on potato production across America this year, accounting for a 6.1% decline, the lowest potato tally seen since 2010.

The trouble started in October, when cold and wet conditions left potato growing regions covered in frost.

Potato prices are expected to rise due to the smaller potato supply. And those potatoes were of good quality.

Would you like fries with that?

And potatoes originally designated for other purposes, like chips or the bags of fresh potatoes you buy at the store, might instead be used to make French fries. Voigt says many fast-food restaurants in Asia are going to western-style fast-food restaurants.

Bloomberg reports it's likely potato prices could soon climb across North America, according to Stephen Nicholson, a senior grains and oilseeds analyst at Rabobank.

"The consumer will see French fries", MacIsaac said.