Potato industry worth $1B, says study

The potato industry generates more than $1 billion for the province of P.E.I., says an economic impact study released Friday.

The potato industry generates more than $1 billion for the province of P.E.I., says an economic impact study released Friday.

Potato farmers doing business at the P.E.I. Potato Technology Expo. (Stephanie van Kampen/CBC)

The study, put out by the P.E.I. Potato Board, also shows the sector creates more than $245 million in household income and 8,283 jobs, which represents 12.1 per cent of total employment in the province.

It also represents more than 10.8 per cent of the provincial gross domestic product.

The study was designed to show government and Islanders the importance of the industry and of the need for continued investment. It looks at the direct and spinoff effects.

"Relative to other provinces, potatoes contribute more here than any other economy in Canada, so it's very significant," said Greg Donald, the board's general manager.

The significance of the industry is that it is known worldwide, said Malpeque MP Wayne Easter.

"I mean, we have a reputation and we have to keep that reputation and build on it," Easter said.

Island farmers say they hope the public will realize how important it is to support the potato industry.

Greg Donald, general manager of the P.E.I. Potato Board, says the study is significant because of the importance of potatoes to the province's economy. (CBC)

"I think it drives home the importance that it is one thing we can be sustainable in, if everybody is aware of the importance of it and the contribution it makes," said Ray Keenan of Rollo Bay Holdings.

The potato board said the last few years have been good for potato farmers. But they still face challenges, especially with high transportation costs.

The board hopes the study will attract more investment in the industry to help deal with those issues.

The research was conducted by the local office of the accounting firm of BDO and Canmac Economics, a consulting firm in Halifax.

The P.E.I. Department of Agriclture provided funding assistance.