Japan is currently facing a shortage of potato chips, leading to spiking of prices and emptying of supermarket shelves, officials said on Monday. One month into the shortage, a bag of pizza-flavoured potato chips, produced by Japanese firm Calbee, originally priced at 200 yen is being sold for 3,000 yen ($27) on Yahoo Japan’s auction website, Efe news reported. Calbee, which dominates the potato chip market in Japan, had announced in April that it was suspending production of more than 14 types of potato chips — but gave no date of when it would resume production — due to a poor harvest last year in northern Japan, which was hit by several typhoons.
The reluctance of farmers to cultivate a specific tuber for potato chips, a different variety from the normal Japanese tuber, has compounded the crisis. The country experienced a similar situation in 2014 and 2015, when a fall in dairy production in the same region led to a shortage of butter.
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Potato chip manufacturers struggle to import potatoes as they need to pass strict quality standards set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, as Tokyo says dirt from potatoes could spread disease. Japan did not begin to import potatoes until 2006, after pressure from the US, the world’s biggest potato exporter.