The Great Japan Potato-Chip Crisis: Panic Buying, $12 Bags

Demand for potato chips has surged in Japan this week, with concoctions on offer for 6 eras their retail price online after Japanese snack firm Calbee Inc . halted the sale of some of its most popular microchip brands.

Calbee’s potato chips.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/ Bloomberg

Calbee’s pizza-flavored chips were going for about 1, 250 yen ($ 12) on Yahoo Japan Corp.’s auction website Friday. One container typically sells for less than 200 yen. Photos of near-empty shelves at their regional supermarkets were trending on Twitter.

The crunch came after Calbee warnedon Monday that it will temporarily halt the sale of 15 types of potato chips due to a bad cultivate in Hokkaido, a key potato-producing part. The northern island was hit by a record number of typhoons last year. Calbee, which has a market value of 507. 9 billion yen and is 20 percent-owned by PepsiCo Inc ., has a 73 percent market share of potato chips.

Potato chips are a big deal in Japan, a country also known for its senbei rice crackers and Pocky stays. Calbee’s potato-snack concoctions were the most and second-most popular snacks in a TV Asahi referendum of ten, 000 people and 13 confectionery producers last year, and the subject of a primetime show that lasted more than two hours.

Typhoon damage in Shimizu, Hokkaido, last-place summer.

Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

While the focus has been on potato chips following Calbee’s announcement, the shortage may spread to fast-food chains and eateries that rely on spuds for their foods in what appears to be mold up to be the nation’s ” Potato Crisis ,” according to the Nikkei newspaper.

” We’re doing everything we can to resume auctions again ,” suggested Rie Makuuchi, a spokeswoman for Tokyo-based Calbee. She said the company will consider using more imported potatoes from the U.S. and invite potato farmers in the countries of the south island of Kyushu to gather their cultivate earlier than scheduled. She likewise quoth regulatory impediments, which limit the amount of imported potatoes that can be used in concoctions, as partly responsible for the shortage.

It’s not the first time Japan’s seen a shortage of food staples — a slumping number of dairy farmers and shortage of imports due to high tariffs has led to butter shortages in the past, be complemented by careful media coverage.

Smaller potato-chip competitive Koike-ya Inc . has also halted sales of 9 snack concoctions. The firm exclusively applies domestic potatoes and therefore won’t will vary depending on imports, according to spokesman Kazuya Obata. Both Koike-ya and Calbee said they aren’t sure when auctions will resume.

Twitter used sent encouraging tweets to Calbee, which apologized for the crunch via its official Twitter account. If nothing else, the shortage appears to be remind people how much they liked their potato chips.

” I realise how obsessed I was to potato chips after the halt ,” one person tweeted.” I’ll be waiting for sales to resume. Hang in there !”

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