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Wet Weather Causes New Zealand Potato Shortage
Challenges in meeting demand for potato chips, weather costs farmers millions (CCSS Level: Grade 9, Words: 399)
Oct 16, 2017 Style & Living

If you're planning on tucking into potato chips, make sure savour them. Stocks of the crunchy delights are stretched as NZ battles a nationwide potato shortage after the long wet winter.

Signs have been spotted at Pak'n Save supermarket warning customers of the difficulty in stocking potato chips due to the shortage. Double Denim marketing co-funder Angela Meyer said: "the shortage could lead to a lot of very disappointed people over the Christmas and New Year period, but there were plenty of chips at the moment."

A Foodstuffs spokeswoman said some of the potato chip suppliers were "having challenges meeting demand" due to the wet wether conditions, but added "we are working closely with our suppliers to manage supply as much as possible. It's anticipated new season crops will be harvested in the next few weeks so supply is likely to settle down then." The comments come after the notices appeared in some Pak'n Save supermarkets.

Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Chris Claridge said: "potato crisps use a particular cultivar of potatoes and they predominantly are grown in the Horowhenua, Matamata and Pukekohe areas. About 15 percent of the total crop goes into crisping and we've got some shortfalls until the new season crisping potatoes become available to the processors - they should start to get supply around about January or February."

It is not yet believed that the shortage will impact on the availability of fresh potato stocks. Wet conditions right through winter have had two effects on crops, Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association president Brent Wilcox said. Other crops have been lost because the potatoes have been in the ground over winter, and the wet conditions have caused them to rot. Wilcox said the financial impact was "million of dollars" for farmers, who may struggle for the rest of the year to return supply to normal. "It's been quite stressful for growers… some growers have lost crops, they've been flooded. "

NZ was last hit by a potato shortage in late 2014 to early 2015 for similar reasons. Meanwhile the same problem hit Japan earlier this year, according to CNBC.

Chips are a popular snack for kiwis, with Potatoes New Zealand reporting New Zealanders spent $157 million on potato chips in 2015 - over $30 per head. When coupled with the $16m in exports, potato chips made one-fifth of the revenue for New Zealand's potato industry, worth a whopping $814m.

What caused the NZ potato shortage?
cold winter
wet winter
labour shortage
Why have the wet conditions affected crops?
crops have been lost & rotted
crops have been washed away
crops have not been harvested
fields have too flooded to grow
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