Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Japan's National Potato Chip Crisis

By Asia Pop Culture

Japanese citizens are in crisis mode again...

Graphic Source: Twitter @Sekahita

Relax, this is not a tsunami or nuclear leak, this time it is about potato chips. Demand for potato chips has surged in Japan.  Chips are fetching 6 times their retail price online after Japanese snack company Calbee Inc. warned 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.  Bloomberg reported that Calbee’s pizza-flavored chips were going for about 1,250 yen ($12) on Yahoo Japan Corp.’s auction website. One bag usually sells for less than 200 yen ($1.84).

The northern island of Hokkaido was hit by a record number of typhoons last year. Calbee, which has a market value of 507.9 billion yen ($4.68 Bn) and is 20% owned by PepsiCo, has a 73% market share of potato chips.

Potato chips are a big deal in Japan, and one Japanese netizen tweeted he just realized how addicted he was to potato chips after the halt.  Bloomberg reported the shortage may spread to fast-food chains and restaurants and this seems to be shaping up to be a national “Potato Crisis,” according to the Nikkei newspaper.

Calbee said the company will consider using more imported potatoes from the U.S. while taking shots at government regulations, which limit the amount of imported potatoes that can be used in products. Smaller potato-chip rival Koike-ya Inc. has also halted the sale of 9 snack products. Both Koike-ya and Calbee said they aren’t sure when sales will resume.

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