Seed potato statistics are unreliable as they sometimes get classified as fresh, and sometimes fresh is classified as seed. However, according to USDA, US exports declined 3 percent to 22,731 MT (501,128 cwt) valued at $10,324,070. Based on the known sales to the USPB's target markets for seed, exports increased 46 percent to 3,031 MT (66,821 cwt). These gains were led by a 624 percent increase to Sri Lanka to 156 MT (3,439 cwt), a 211 percent increase to Nicaragua to 950 MT (20,944 cwt), a 144 percent increase to Uruguay to 975 MT (21,495 cwt) and a 121 percent increase to the Dominican Republic to 725 MT (15,983 cwt). Reece is optimistic there will be continued growth in seed exports as many of the access and technical barriers have been overcome, and the quality of US seed is becoming known in foreign markets.

Frozen potato products are still the largest portion of US potato exports at 60 percent. Exports for FY12 were $989,261,082, up 22 percent, with volume up 17 percent to 905,941 MT (19,972,375 cwt FWE). Japan is far and away the largest export market at 300,528 MT (11,263,248 cwt FWE), with an increase of 5 percent in FY12 as the result of further movement into new channels and new products. China is now the second largest market for US exports, up 57 percent to 99,219 MT (3,718,550 cwt FWE). Exports to Mexico have completely recovered after the retaliatory tariff from the NAFTA trucking dispute was lifted in early 2011. Growth was 31 percent in FY12 to 80,180 MT (3,002,304 cwt FWE). Growth in US exports to Central America, up 3 percent to 33,810 MT (1,267,138 cwt FWE), slowed as the economies there continued to struggle, and both Canada and the EU were able to ship low cost product to the market.

The US was able to successfully defend market share and continue to grow exports to the USPB target markets in Asia, led by an 18 percent increase to Korea to 61,488 MT (2,304,460 cwt FWE), a 23 percent increase to Malaysia to 33,734 MT (1,264,290 cwt FWE) and a 6 percent increase to the Philippines to 31,808 MT (1,192,107 cwt FWE).

Susan Weller, International Marketing Manager for Frozen, stated ,"The USPB's new 'Why Buy US' frozen potato products marketing program has already proven to be very effective, and I am looking forward to fuller implementation in the coming year, particularly in highly competitive markets such as Central America, Thailand and Indonesia. The ever expanding uses of US frozen potato products in more established markets such as Korea and Japan will allow US exports to grow beyond the expansion of western style dining in the region."

John Toaspern, Vice President for International Marketing, believes, "The outlook for continued growth in exports in FY13 is very good as it appears the US will have ample supplies of potatoes to meet all international demand, and that some of our major competitors, such as the EU, will be short on supply." He warned however, "Problems with market access, particularly for fresh and seed potatoes, could limit sales to certain markets; but the pending market access breakthroughs with Mexico and the Philippines for fresh, and Egypt for seed potatoes, could create huge opportunities for US growers and shippers."

For more information, please visit the USPB International Table-Stock, Chip-Stock, Dehy, Seed and Frozen programs online.

For more information on the USPB as the nation's potato marketing organization, positioned as the "catalyst for positive change," and the central organizing force in implementing programs that will increase demand for potatoes, please visit www.uspotatoes.com.