A potato shortage may mean a fry-free future.

By Lauren Phillips
December 03, 2019
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Stock up on frozen French fries while you can: Some outlets are reporting a potential French fry shortage in the near future. Potato growers in Canada and the U.S. are reporting low harvests this year—and French fry demand has been high—which may lead to a shortage, unfortunately, for fry fans across the country. (Maybe concerns regarding if potatoes are healthy are less pressing than wondering if you’ll be able to get potatoes at all.)

As reported by Bloomberg, the French fry shortage comes as potato processors rush to buy and ship enough potatoes to keep up with the demand. Cold weather damaged potato crops in the U.S. and Canada—in areas such as Alberta, Manitoba, Idaho, North Dakota, and Minnesota—lowering output. Many potatoes were frost-damaged, and while some farmers were able to dig up damaged crops for storage, others had to abandon their growing taters. In the U.S. alone, potato production is expected to drop more than 6 percent for 2019, to the lowest it’s been since 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Consequences of the potato shortage may lead to rising prices in North America, Bloomberg reports. Another issue is that the crop damage means the potatoes that are harvested (and made available for fry-making) are smaller than usual, meaning fewer fries per potato.

Should you run out and eat as many French fries as possible now, before the shortage hits? Not necessarily: There’s no need to panic. Prices might rise slightly, but French fry makers will be able to obtain the spuds they need from other sources, even if that means shipping potatoes cross-country to do so. Instead of worrying about a French fry shortage in the months ahead, focus on enjoying your leftover mashed potatoes while you can. Fortunately, sweet potatoes seem to be just fine, so you can always make the switch to sweet potato fries if you’re truly concerned.

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