Japanese snacks group Calbee is to suspend production of a range of items, including its Pizza Potato crisps brand, as a result of a national potato shortage.
Calbee said the move is the knock-on effect of typhoons that wrecked horticulture and damaged infrastructure last year in the country’s northernmost island of Hokkaido – a major vegetable producing region.
Hokkaido potatoes are normally sent to market between September and May. However, as a result of the lack of raw material, Calbee said it is forced to halt the production and sale of around 30 of its crisps and snacks products this month. No date has been set for a resumption.
According to the Nikkei Asian Review, another major potato chip maker, Koike-ya, is also set to suspend sales of a number of products as a result of the shortage.
Meanwhile, Nikkei said news of the shortage has seen a surge in demand for potato products with “consumers flocking to stores to buy their favourites before they disappear from shelves”.
Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries has acknowledged that potato stocks from Hokkaido are “below average” for the time of year, which is in turn expected to see a spike in prices.
In November, Calbee posted rising first-half profits, pointing to higher cereal sales but lower revenue from snacks in a domestic market hit by weak consumption trends and unseasonable weather. The company’s net profit rose 4.3% to JPY7.98bn (US$72m) in the six months to the end of September.