According to numbers released last week by USDA, a little more than one-third of all potatoes grown in the country are manufactured into frozen products, 85% of which are french-fries. 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% in 1970-74 to 44% 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 6% 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.
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