New Data from USDA’s Economic Research Service shows the majority of potatoes in the United States are now sold in processed forms such as frozen, chipped, dehydrated, or canned. With the introduction of french fries as a key side dish in quick-service restaurants, the share of potatoes that go into frozen products has risen in each decade since 1979.
As a result, almost half of all potatoes going into food in the United States are now used to create frozen products—most of which are french fries. Meanwhile, the share of potatoes used as fresh table potatoes has declined decade by decade. Per capita frozen potato availability during the pandemic-influenced 2019–21 period, up eight percent from a decade earlier.
According to industry data and USDA research in the early 2000s, about 90 percent of frozen french fries move through various food service venues. Quick-service restaurants alone account for about two-thirds of french fry usage.