A potato shortage caused by poor weather in Australia's eastern states has forced supermarket giant Coles to impose a temporary purchase limit on frozen chips across the country.
"Due to supply issues of frozen potato chips, we have introduced a temporary purchase limit of two items per transaction," Coles told customers via its website. "This will help to maintain availability for all customers. Thank you for your patience, we apologise for any inconvenience caused."
Coles shoppers in parts of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia had already started to notice the range disappearing from freezers over the past six months, as brands such as PepsiCo Australia warned stock levels of popular crisp brands Smiths and Red Rock Deli could be affected by the shortage.
"Poor weather in the eastern states has affected supply of some frozen potato products across the industry," a Coles spokesperson confirmed in a statement. "We thank customers for their patience while we work hard with suppliers to minimise disruption and return stock to normal levels in the coming months."
Not just frozen chips
In an interview with 3AW Breakfast, Clarkes Hill potato farmer Rodney Guthrie said the ongoing wet weather that affected potato chip supplies will cut across the fresh and frozen food sections.
"It all started back in January when we got the floods. It wiped a lot of potato crops out and the tonnage was heavily down for this season," Guthrie said. "It's been an extremely hard year. The tonnages were down, and you know it's been a cold and wet winter too which doesn’t help. Supply is not there and it's not going to be on the shelves. The crops are down and we're back to about half of the usual tonnage."
In November, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci had already warned that the ongoing rain was going to impact the supply of frozen vegetables including corn and potatoes, which was echoed by Victoria Farmers Federation Vice President of Horticulture Kathryn Myers weeks later.
Yahoo News previously reported that the NSW Farmers Association found that more than two-thirds of the state's farmers were experiencing flooding for the second year in a row, with more than three-quarters saying they had planted less than half of their usual winter crop this season in response to wet weather.
In the report, NSW Farmers President Xavier Martin lamented that the disaster to farmers and their crops is not over yet, saying: "We know this year will go down in history not just as one of the worst widespread flooding events we've seen. A lot of this flood damage cannot be insured against, and we'll be feeling the impact well into next year in terms of missing the summer sowing window because the ground is still so wet."
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.