Potato world
Metric units

North America

Production, 2007
Harvested area
615 878 ha
Quantity
25 345 305 t
Yield
41.2 t/ha
Source: FAOSTAT
Top producers, 2007

1 United States of America
2 Canada

North American potato production is concentrated in two countries - the United States and Canada, which rank fourth and 13th, respectively, in the potato producing world (their closest regional rival, Bermuda, produced 1 100 tonnes in 2007). Since 1990, both countries have achieved notable increases in yields, which now average around 44 tonnes in the USA. Both are also major exporters of frozen potato products.

1. United States of America

potato

Production, 2007
Harvested area
456 9060 ha
Quantity
20 373 267 t
Yield
44.6 t/ha
Source: FAOSTAT

Although the potato was grown in South America for millennia, the first potato patch in North America was only planted in 1719, in New Hampshire (the first french fries were served at the White House during the Presidency of Thomas Jefferson some 80 years later).

In 2007, the United States harvested 20.3 million tonnes of potatoes, enough to make it the world's fourth biggest producer. Potatoes in the United States are grown in nearly every state, although about half of the crop comes from Idaho, Washington, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Minnesota, California and Michigan. Most potatoes are harvested in September and October.

Only about one third of US potatoes is consumed fresh. Around 60 percent of annual output is processed into frozen products (such as frozen fries and wedges), crisps, dehydrated potato and starch, while 6 percent is re-used as seed potato. Each American eats more than 54 kg of potatoes every year. However, fresh potato consumption has declined from more than 22 kg per person in 1993 to just 16 kg in 2006.

2. Canada

potato, pomme de terre, patate

Production, 2007
Harvested area
158 927 ha
Quantity
4 970 938 t
Yield
31.3 t/ha
Source: FAOSTAT

Potatoes were first grown by settlers in New Brunswick, on Canada's Atlantic coast, as early as the mid-1600s. Today, Canada ranks as the world's 13th largest potato grower, with 2007 output of almost five million tonnes. The potato accounts for one third of all vegetable farm cash receipts, or $846 million in 2007, making it Canada's most important horticultural crop.

Since the early 1990s, Canadian potato production has expanded to meet international demand for frozen potato products. In 2006-07, Canada shipped 970 000 tonnes of frozen French fries to foreign markets, making it the second largest French fry exporter after the Netherlands. In the same period, it exported 120 000 tonnes of seed potatoes valued at $38 million and 470 000 tonnes of table potatoes worth $140 million.

Potatoes account for about 36 percent of all fresh and processed vegetables consumed in Canada. Despite the potato’s popularity, however, total consumption has declined from 76 kg per person in 1994 to 65 kg in 2007.

Sources: United States Potato Board; Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada