Australia grappling with unprecedented potato crisis as shoppers are charged almost $7 for a measly packets of chips and supermarkets bring back buying limits
- Shopper spotted plain salt potato chips for $6.65 a packet on the weekend
- There is a potato shortage due to floods and frosts with 50 per cent lower crop
- The shortage is affecting ‘processed’ products like chips more than fresh spuds
The humble spud is in short supply in Australia sparking a wave of knock-on effects from frozen chips vanishing in supermarkets to packets of potato crisps soaring to nearly $7.
A shopper took to Reddit at the weekend to share a photo of a packet of popular brand Red Rock Deli’s plain sea salt flavoured chips with a staggering price tag of $6.65.
A quick scan of Woolworths’ online site on Monday showed they have a current standard price of $6.30 for a 165gram packet, while Coles has them for $5.50.
A packet of plain potato chips has soared to nearly $7 in some supermarkets (pictured)
There is a potato shortage which is affecting ‘processed’ potato products like chips and french-fries more than fresh potatoes
Commenters on the post were shocked at the high price for the perennial favourite with some also noting they came up empty-handed when they went looking for french-fries in the freezer aisle.
‘If it’s more than $3 for a packet of chips it’s a pass – they’re potatoes!’ one person wrote.
‘I went to the Coles in my area the other day. There were NO frozen chips,’ another said.
‘Yeah the local Coles here is only allowing a max sale of two frozen potato products per person. Can’t get tots anymore either,’ a third said.
‘Yeah! My café can’t even do hash browns no more,’ added a fourth.
Coles brought back buying limits for frozen potatoes – including hash browns and chips – last week.
Main competitor Woolworths, however, will continue with no limits to purchases of potato products.
It is weathering the storm and expects supply issues to normalise by mid-February.
Coles has placed a two packet per person limit on frozen chips and Woolworths shoppers have said they’re hard to find
Due to the increased rain, cold weather and frost over what should have been the prime growing period of spring and summer, the potato crop is very low this year.
Robert Cerchiaro, general manager of Gippsland-based Red Gem Growers, which has about 3000 acres of potato farms in NSW and Victoria said his crop is anywhere from 25 to 50 per cent lower than the previous year.
‘We’re now getting into the summer crops and they’re just not what you’d hoped for them,’ Mr Cerchiaro, who supplies Coles and Aldi, told the Australian Financial Review.
Potato farmers divide their crop into processed and fresh categories, with the processed – what is given to the factory to be turned into chips and fries – experiencing the biggest shortage.
A spokesperson for industry body AUSVEG, Shaun Lindhe, said consumers can expect to notice missing products or price rises over the next few months as the market navigates the supply gap.
The industry is already battling increased pressure from soaring petrol, gas and fertilizer prices amid inflation and global supply chain issues.
‘The cost of fertiliser from the farms, to the labour shortages and transport costs, these are factors that have amplified all pricing across all sectors,’ Mouhamad Dib, director of wholesale supplier In2Food told FoodBomb.
Flooding and frosts have caused a significantly reduced crop – up to 50 per cent less than last year
Fast food behemoth McDonald’s this month introduced a limited Australian menu item – the potato scallop with chicken salt – sparking backlash from local takeaway businesses who are already struggling to buy potatoes.
Chris Dimopoulos, owner of Blue Sea Fish Shop in Castlemaine, Victoria, took to TikTok to vent his frustrations.
‘If you’ve got 990 odd Macca’s stores in Australia and you serve, according to your own website, 1.7 million customers a day, if you sell one potato cake to every 10 customers, that’s 170,000 potato cakes you’re selling every single day,’ he said.
‘Now every fish shop I know around here is struggling to get chips, potatoes, potato cakes.’
Mr Dimopoulous said his shop makes their own potato scallops (above) but is struggling to keep in line with ‘rations’ amid the shortages
‘If they’re going to sell 170,000 potato cakes a day across all their shops, that’s no potatoes left for every mum and dad shop left in Australia.’
One commenter on the original Reddit post shared his tip for Australians who need to satisfy their chip craving without digging into their savings account.
‘I’ve stopped buying chips from the big two supermarkets,’ the commenter said.
‘Aldi seriously has the most underrated and best value chips out there. Try their Blackstone brand if you like Red Rock Deli, not only are they cheaper, they are also bigger packets.’