The latest shortage amid the current cost of living crisis is none other than the potato; the very veggie that provides us with the crowd favourite - the hot chip.
Due to the cold climate and frost, potatoes are not growing the way that they’re meant to as they’re producing extra sugar. Because of this, only 50% of farmer’s potatoes are sellable and this is likely to be the case until mid 2023.
Limor Horowitz, National Sales Manager for Golden Fries says that this is having a massive impact on chips, and particularly affecting the big food distribution centres in Victoria; “Instead of having an endless supply, they now cap each distributor which is extremely challenging. We’re now doing only three lines and focus on products that sell a lot more which are the 10ml/13ml/15ml - the go-to’s used in chicken charcoal venues, fish and chip restaurants and souvlaki bars.”
Although Victoria is suffering the most, other states aren’t far behind but to bring in potatoes interstate, the prices go up by hundreds more dollars per ton.
Nathan Lo Russo, Head of CX at Foodbomb warns of a 30% price rise over the coming weeks due to the fuel price surge and rising production costs: “From speaking to suppliers across the board, fuel prices, electricity and the cost of fertiliser are causing prices to spiral, with the price of fertiliser having tripled due to the war in Ukraine”.
Mouhamad Dib, Director of In2Food says "the cost of fertiliser from the farms, to the labour shortages and transport costs, these are factors that have amplified all pricing across all sectors.”
The floods have also played a major part in many farmers losing crops with some farms around Sydney having completely been submerged under water.
Larger potato suppliers source their potatoes internationally, however, amidst the current global shipping crisis, buying potatoes overseas has become extremely expensive and delayed. These suppliers have therefore turned to local growers to buy their stock, which is impossible due to the shortages, resulting in their less popular products having to be temporarily discontinued, such as potato gems and hash browns.
On the other hand, small business owner, Harry Gavalas, who runs Gummy's Fish and Chips in Frankston, Victoria says "Potatoes are our bread and butter in the shop. It's a struggle, it's very hard”.
Large chains such as KFC and Subway made controversial menu changes as a result of the ongoing lettuce shortage, so the question is whether this latest price change will impact other areas.
Currently a small serve of hot chips from takeaway shops range between $5 to $7. If those prices were to increase by 30%, you'd be looking at closer to $9 a serve for the end consumer.
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