French Fry Shortage?! It’s OK, Don’t Freak Out

Weather conditions have damaged some potato crops, but your fast-food side order is probably safe.

What do you do when you hear there may be a French-fry shortage? First, freak out!

Fry shortage! Fry shortage! OMG, there’s going to be a fry shortage?!

Second, relax. Experts say it’s all going to be OK.

But first things first. Apparently there’s been a rush to buy and ship potatoes to be processed into French fries across North America following a crop-damaging spell of cool, wet weather in potato-growing regions of the United States and Canada, beginning in October.

While potato farmers in some areas were able to rescue frost-damaged crops and store them, others were not, Bloomberg reports. At the same time, the business news site notes, demand for fries has been on the rise, and supply, following the damage, may not be able to keep pace, driving prices up.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasts domestic output will drop 6.1% this year to the lowest since 2010, the agency said in a Nov. 8 report. In Idaho, the top producer, output is forecast to fall 5.5%,” Bloomberg reported, in a story that was echoed elsewhere and sparked a bit of a fry panic. “Part of the problem for processors is the crop damage means potatoes are coming in smaller. French-fry makers usually favor longer spuds.”

Subsequent reports, however, have been more reassuring.

“The French Fries Are Doing Just Fine,” a New York Times headline declared. Although it’s true that this year’s potato harvests in the U.S. and Canada have been “weaker” than usual, experts told the paper fast-food fries are not in danger; fry purveyors will find a way to get the potatoes they need.

“Don’t panic about the French fries,” Frank Muir, the president of the Idaho Potato Commission, told the Times. “You can still go out and order them like you normally do.”

“Our French fry supply is safe for now,” Popular Science agreed, soothingly, although it added, ominously, “the future is uncertain.”

“Potatoes are really resilient,” University of Minnesota horticulturist Laura Shannon told PopSci. “They’re not like bananas or oranges, which we’re worried about keeping around as a plant we’re going to eat. We’re going to keep eating potatoes.”

So for now, at least, the answer to “Do you want fries with that?” can continue to be a hungrily resounding “Yes!”

Photo: iStock

Next Up

Don’t Throw That Out: Thanksgiving Edition

Follow these handy tips and ideas for repurposing Thanksgiving leftovers.

Don't Count Out Cilantro

We heart this fresh, leafy herb and use it in lots of dishes. And while today may be Cinco de Mayo, this baby isn't just for Mexican cuisine.

How to Make a French Fry Out of (Almost) Any Vegetable

When you think french fries, you think potato, right? But who made spuds the king of the fry? Turn outs, lots of delicious vegetables make great finger food.

Don’t Throw Out Your Leftovers! Here’s How to Use ’Em Up

Tossing out what’s left after a meal is a waste of money and food. Here’s how to save more of both.

Playing with Your Food Is OK When It Turns Out Like This

Cooking is a form of making order out of chaos, but no one makes order out of a random assembly of ingredients like freelance photographer Brittany Wright.

"Shop It, Don't Chop It" Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry

Navigating weeknight meals can be a challenge. First, you have to shop, then you have to chop--and then there's the cooking. The good news is that The Kitchen has eliminated a few steps by selecting the best pre-chopped and ready-made supermarket ingredients. We've also combined these timesavers to make a delicious Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry.

Wait! Don’t Toss That Leftover Eggnog.

It’s the perfect ingredient for making French toast.