Japan’s Chip Shortage Likely to Linger

Published online: May 18, 2017 Articles
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Potato growers in Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture haven’t recovered from last summer’s typhoons, which means Japanese consumers will have to wait until at least the fall before the usual range of potato chip products returns to store shelves.

The country’s farm ministry expects the chip shortage to last until the island prefecture’s next harvests get under way in September. About 80 percent of Japan’s potatoes are grown in Hokkaido.

An unprecedented four typhoons lashed northern Japan last August. The rain and flooding caused severe agricultural damage that caused potato production to drop 10 percent from 2015 to 1.72 million tons in 2016.

While the region’s harvests for fresh potatoes have recovered, output for processed products like chips is still falling short of demand, forcing major potato chip maker Calbee, Inc. and its peers to suspend some flavors and varieties.

Potatoes used in processed foods account for roughly 30 percent of all production in Hokkaido.

An agriculture ministry official said snack producers prefer domestic crops due in part to the complexity of exterminating harmful insects linked to imported potatoes. To prevent the spread of parasites and diseases, Japan only allows potato imports from the United States.


Source: Japan Times