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United Potato Growers Review

Updated: May 10, 2023

Looking back on 2022, the potato sector would definitely say it was a challenging year. There were some major weather difficulties to contend with — cold, wet springs delayed planting for producers in New Brunswick, Quebec, Manitoba and B.C. and then a hot, dry August that stopped plants in their tracks, so to speak, for many fields, resulting in later harvests as some growers tried to fight against the calendar and oncoming frosts as long as possible to improve the size profile.

Victoria Stamper
Victoria Stamper

P.E.I also had the tail end of Hurricane Fiona to deal with right as harvest was about to begin, with fallen trees and loss of power slowing things down for many farmers. But the difficulty shared by every Canadian potato farmer was how to deal with the substantial increases in the cost of production that spiked after the invasion of Ukraine. Producers continued to feel the financial strain from high fertilizer, fuel, transport and labour costs throughout the year. Many growers stated this past season was the most expensive they have ever experienced. In surveying farmers across Canada recently, transport costs may have stabilized as availability opened up, however major inputs such as fertilizer and fuel are as expensive as last spring or have even increased.

The processing sector had been able to negotiate some increases into contracts for 2022, but not nearly enough to offset the spike in costs that came after the ink was dry. This sector will be working hard to improve contracts for 2023 as there is no relief in sight for the cost of growing potatoes.

It was a bit of a roller coaster for the growing season, however most farms across Canada were happy with the final harvest, with nice weather allowing for all areas to get the majority of the crop out of the ground. Quality was reported as excellent, yields average to above average in most areas, with a smaller profile as the only concern regarding the crop. Overall, in Canada total potato production was reported by Statistics Canada at 122,970 million hundredweight, a 0.8% increase over 2021. The increase in production was not surprising based on a slight increase in planted acres, overall yields that were also up and the good harvest conditions.

Acreage, Production and Yield for Potatoes in Canada – 2003 - 2022

For Ontario, the ride maybe have started out better than many other provinces, with good weather and timely planting, however the hot weather later in the summer did hit those without irrigation harder than others. The yield in the province came in at 220 for this year’s crop, down from 240 in 2021, but still well above the 5-year average of 215. Harvest conditions were extremely hot in Ontario, with some growers stopping to allow cooler pulp temperatures. However, even with these higher temperatures, the crop seems to have stored fairly well with good quality coming out of storage now.

Currently most regions have been reporting good demand and pricing, managing their supplies closely as the overall North American market for potatoes is tight, particularly in the processing sector. In fact, post-harvest saw some large purchases of open market potatoes by some US processors who were concerned that their contract levels would not adequately match the continued increases in demand, particularly for frozen fries. Globally the frozen fry market continues to exhibit strong demand, and Canada has taken advantage of this opportunity with our exports increasing throughout 2022.

Typically, in the year following a strong market for potatoes, we would see an increase in acreage the following season. However, with many barriers facing our growers, including higher input costs as previously mentioned, along with labour shortages, concerns about water as well as higher land costs, many in the industry do not predict the norm, and feel acreage will only increase slightly. There is also talk of a seed shortage across North America, albeit regional in scope and within certain varieties, it is another factor to be considered when evaluating future growth in acreage.

It is not all doom and gloom however, in fact it is a very good time to be in potatoes. Demand is strong and the forecast is that consumers and retailers alike will continue to keep potatoes as the number one vegetable. Discussions with growers across the country show that most are feeling cautiously optimistic, as with anyone dealing with mother nature should be, and feel that the returns to farmers are also improving as long as pricing remains at levels that cover continually rising input costs. Overall pricing is currently strong and stable, transport availability is much better, and with continued focus on regenerative farming practices and new varieties, yields continue to improve. So even if acreage does not increase substantially, we can still impact the overall production numbers, as seen in 2022.

For more information on the Canadian Potato Market please do not hesitate to reach out to Victoria by email at or on her cell at 514-770-8742.

United Potato Growers of Canada is a non-profit organization that was formed in February of 2006 with the objective to collect, analyze and communicate data that growers across Canada can use to make sound economic decisions about their crop. Their Mission is to provide potato industry information, intelligence and analysis, that allows growers to make timely, informed production and marketing decisions. Victoria enjoys active collaboration with growers in Ontario as well as with the Ontario Potato Board, discussing the possibility of them re-joining as an active member of UPGC.

Victoria Stamper joined UPGC on April 25th, 2022, replacing outgoing General Manager, Kevin MacIsaac, who announced his retirement from the organization earlier in the year.

Victoria brings a commodities background to the organization, with the principles of supply, demand, and profitability, being very familiar to members of the potato industry.

She grew up in London, Ontario, and attended the University of Guelph, obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce with a Major in Marketing. She moved to Montreal and studied at McGill University in the Bachelor of Arts, Psychology Program. She is fluent in English and French for the Quebec members of the organization. Her professional development also includes training in the Six Sigma Program at the yellow belt level. An active volunteer, she has given her time to organizations including, Pinewood Elementary, Scouts Canada, and the MS and Cancer Society. 

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