Give Your Goodbyes to French Fries


Oliver Jamias, Contributor

Potatoes are a staple in the American Fast Food business, most notably due to being the vegetable that french fries are made out of.  However, it is becoming a possibility that there will be a shortage and price increase of the spuds in the near future after a poor potato harvest.

In the Midwestern United States and Canada, potatoes suffered from a famine that greatly affected the quality and size of the crops grown.  The main source of this french fry famine can be sourced back to October 2019, although Hurricane Dorian helped weaken the harvest back in August and September.  In October, less-than-ideal weather conditions left growing potato crops cold, wet, and frozen.  Continuous harsh weather later led to a 6% drop in crop yields in the U.S. and up to 18% in Canada.  As a result of this bad weather, the potato crops that did manage to grow are smaller than usual, and this means bad news for the french fry business.  French fry producers tend to use the largest potatoes available to them, and this poor harvest means could mean a shortage in America, as well as rising prices for fries.

This could spell bad news for people who love to eat fries, as well as the potato farmers.  Even before the shortage happened, the prices of potatoes are 20% more expensive than last year, so a large shortage affecting major potato producers could mean an even bigger increase in already high prices.  French fries have also been seeing higher and higher demand in the United States, which makes this a bad time for potato supply to fall.  The potato farmers are also in trouble with the small harvest; smaller potatoes means that they might not be able to sell them for as much as usual, since the french fry business uses the largest potatoes possible.

However, many think that this shortage of french fries is manageable and should not have much of an impact on the potato business in the U. S.  Due to the fact that there are still a huge amount of potatoes growing in other places in the U.S. and Canada, experts in the field think that rising prices will not be affecting french fry consumers that much.  As for the state of the potatoes themselves, the prices will most likely only increase by a negligible amount.  Kevin MacIsaac, manager of the United Potato Growers of Canada, stated that the shortage could be solved by having the good potato yields on the East coast moved to places affected by the famine.  According to MacIsaac, this is a “manageable situation”, and the only thing farmers have to do “to move from one channel to another that they sometimes don’t move in a normal year.”  There are also 12,000 unharvested acres of potatoes in Manitoba, Canada, just in case supplies run out.  If this french fry shortage does prove true though, the sweet potato harvest in North Carolina is back with a strong harvest after getting affected by Hurricane Florence last year.