The United States Potato Board (USPB) International Marketing program is proud to announce US exports of all potatoes and potato products for FY12 (July 2011-June 2012) were 1,506,557 metric tons (MT) valued at $1,583,563,167. This was a 10 percent increase in volume and a 17 percent increase in value over the previous marketing year and 43 percent increase from five years ago. The export volume is 65,271,616 cwt on a fresh weight equivalent (FWE) basis.

This growth was led by a 17 percent increase in exports of frozen potato products and an 8 percent increase in dehy exports, despite tight supplies of both products in the US. The only reductions in exports were a decline of 1 percent in potato chips and a 21 percent decrease in seed exports; however, the figures for seed are not reliable.

Ritchey Toevs, Co-Chair of the International Marketing Committee, mused, "None of these markets happened overnight or because we produced too many potatoes in any one year, but only because of the day-after-day, year-after-year combined efforts of USPB, the National Potato Council (NPC), the state organizations and USDA-APHIS/FAS. There are many factors contributing to the continued increase in US exports; certainly the growth in demand for potatoes and products in Asia and Latin America plays an important role, as does the fact the US supplies the very best potatoes and products at competitive prices. The improvements in market access, be it from US Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), like those with Central America, Korea, Panama and Colombia, and reductions in tariffs by countries like Vietnam and Russia as part of their accession to the WTO, to the removal of phytosanitary barriers to fresh and seed potatoes in countries like Japan, Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Uruguay also contributed significantly to the increase."

Fellow USPB International Committee Co-Chair Rob Davis pointed out, "The increased awareness of opportunities in foreign markets and increased focus on them by US growers, shippers and processors has been a big factor." He stressed, "The work by the USPB and its foreign representatives to secure market access, create demand, establish trading relationships and promote US quality and nutrition has been extremely important in creating these opportunities."

Exports of fresh potatoes were valued at $204,490,379, an increase of 10 percent, with volume at 407,114 MT or 8,981,087 cwt, up 2 percent. Fresh exports, which include table-stock potatoes, but also those destined for chipping or freezing in the foreign country, were hampered by a 12 percent decline in shipments to Canada, the largest US market. Exports to the second largest market, Mexico, rose 10 percent to 72,159 MT or 1,590,817 cwt. Exports to Central America grew 32 percent to 8,010 MT or 176,588 cwt, while shipments to the Board's target markets in Asia increased 59 percent to 64,888 MT or 1,430,520 cwt. This was led by an over 100 percent increase in chipping potato exports to Japan and Thailand and strong sales of both chipping and table potatoes to Malaysia and Taiwan. Korea, a market the USPB did not promote fresh potatoes in during FY12 grew 46 percent to 19,823 MT or 437,017 cwt, thanks to strong demand for chippers and the opening of the table-stock market as a result of the FTA.

Sarah Reece, USPB International Marketing Manager for Fresh and Seed potatoes, stated, "I am very proud that in all markets where the USPB has completed its program for chipping potatoes, all of the major chip producers are now buying from the US." She is optimistic the same will occur as a result of the ongoing programs in Central America, Vietnam and Japan.

Exports of dehydrated potato products were $192,678,610 with a volume of 117,259 MT or 16,822,085 cwt at FWE. Sales to Canada, the largest market, were up 10 percent to 33,562 MT or 4,809,401 cwt FWE. Japan was the second largest market at 22,220 MT (3,184,103 cwt FWE) up 12 percent, while Mexico was number three at 21,617 MT (3,097,694 cwt FWE). Exports to Africa, mainly through USDA purchases for international food aid programs, but with some commercial sales as well, increased 90 percent to 1,136 MT (167,788 cwt FWE).

TK Kuwahara, USPB International Marketing Manager for Dehy, commented, "Africa holds a great deal of potential for long term growth as it has the fastest growing population and struggles to produce enough food. It is for these reasons the USPB continues to work on increased demand through the food assistance programs but has also begun promoting US dehy for commercial purchases through a USDA funded multi-commodity program in Africa."