NZ hit by potato shortage

Posted by Nicholas Nakos on 18th October 2017

New Zealand is facing a potato shortage after up to 30 per cent of the country’s crop was hit by heavy rain during the 2017 winter season.

Chris Claridge, the Chief Executive of Potatoes New Zealand said potato farmers have been severely impacted by the weather in 2017.

“If they can’t harvest and process, they are not getting their income,” Claridge said.

“It is also quite distressing to be digging up rotting potatoes. It is a very important part of New Zealand psyche having potatoes,” Claridge said.

A year of heavy rain devastates New Zealand’s potato crop

Potato crops planted in 2016 have either rotted in soil due to the heavy rains or had to remain unharvested because of the recent torrential downpours.

The rainfall has included two serious floods in both the North and South Island, wiping out 20 per cent of New Zealand’s annual potato crop, and 30 per cent in the regions most affected.

Potato chips in short supply

The ‘crisping’ potato varieties are taking the biggest hit, with some supermarkets putting up signs in their packet potato chips section alerting customers to the shortage.

“The grower community is highlighting a potential future potato shortage due to bad weather,” Foodstuffs Head of External Relations, Antoinette Laird said.

Foodstuffs, the owner of New Zealand’s largest supermarket chains said farmers had made them aware that potato products such as packet chips and frozen chips may be in shortage into the new year.

New Zealand usually produces 500,000 tonnes of potatoes annually and is the ninth-biggest exporter of potatoes in the world.

Approximately two-thirds of the annual crop are normally destined for processing, with 250,000 tonnes made into chips and 75,000 tonnes into packet chips.

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