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Japan’s Potato Chip Shortage Causes Prices to Rise to $12 a Bag

Japan’s Potato Chip Shortage Causes Prices to Rise to $12 a Bag

Bad potato crop has led to the shortage.

Everyone in Japan apparently wants potato chips! In fact, the country has started to run out of the delicious snack. From Bloomberg:

Calbee’s pizza-flavored chips were going for about 1,250 yen ($12) on Yahoo Japan Corp.’s auction website Friday. One bag usually sells for less than 200 yen. Photos of near-empty shelves at their local supermarkets were trending on Twitter.

The crunch came after Calbee warned on Monday that it will temporarily halt the sale of 15 types of potato chips due to a bad crop in Hokkaido, a key potato-producing region. The northern island was hit by a record number of typhoons last year. Calbee, which has a market value of 507.9 billion yen and is 20 percent-owned by PepsiCo Inc., has a 73 percent market share of potato chips.

Potato chips are a big deal in Japan, a country also known for its senbei rice crackers and Pocky sticks. Calbee’s potato-snack products were the most and second-most popular snacks in a TV Asahi poll of 10,000 people and 13 confectionery makers last year, and the subject of a primetime show that lasted more than two hours.

While the focus has been on potato chips following Calbee’s announcement, the shortage may spread to fast-food chains and restaurants that rely on spuds for their dishes in what appears to be shaping up to be the nation’s “Potato Crisis,” according to the Nikkei newspaper.

“We’re doing everything we can to resume sales again,” said Rie Makuuchi, a spokeswoman for Tokyo-based Calbee. She said the company will consider using more imported potatoes from the U.S. and ask potato farmers in the southern island of Kyushu to harvest their crop earlier than scheduled. She also cited regulatory hurdles, which limit the amount of imported potatoes that can be used in products, as partly responsible for the shortage.

The panic began last month:


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You can’t publish articles about this. Those of Irish descent might be triggered.

HamiltonNJ | May 3, 2017 at 5:35 pm

They can’t have mine.

On the bright side, the salesman isn’t crushing the chips trying to get one more bag on the shelf.

Now that protectionism has reduced supply, time for price controls. And when that doesn’t work, state takeover of the industry, because the market has failed.

Morning Sunshine | May 4, 2017 at 8:36 am

learn to make your own. Slice your potatoes thin (I use my bosch), deep fry in hot oil (I use peanut), drain, salt, eat. Try to keep more chips in the bowl than there are children taking them out. They are even better after a night of sitting out on the counter.