Micheal Clements, NAFB News Service
A little more than one-third of all potatoes grown in the United States are manufactured into frozen products, 85 percent of which are french-fries, according to the Department of Agriculture. USDA recently released a report on potato usage. Spurred by decades of explosive growth within the quick-service restaurant industry, processed potato products, which include frozen, chipped, dehydrated, and canned, became the major movers in the potato market, led by frozen french-fries. The share of potatoes consumed as frozen products rose from 27 percent in 1970-74 to 44 percent in 2015-2019. Research in the early 2000s indicated that quick-service restaurants alone accounted for about two-thirds of French-fry usage, with another six percent attributed to school cafeterias. The COVID-19 pandemic severely hobbled the foodservice sector, according to USDA, resulting in an abrupt slowdown in French-fry demand. In addition, exports of frozen potato products, which account for one-fourth of freezing potato utilization, remain well-below year-earlier levels.