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Fish but no chips: National potato shortage hurting WA takeaway stores

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Nothing says summer time like fish and chips on the seaside however the Aussie custom is below risk on account of a nationwide sizzling chip scarcity. 

The nationwide potato chip provide has been affected by flooding on the east coast, however even WA growers have barely began harvesting on account of seasonal limitations, including to the scarcity.

Stephen Bendotti supervisor of WA Chip, the state’s solely business chip producer, mentioned the issue will not be over quickly.

“Personally, I reckon it goes to worsen … for at the very least 12 months. I do not assume it can go away,” Mr Bendotti mentioned.

“The yield will not be there, so the quantity may very well be 20 per cent down, so 20 per cent on a winter crop is lots on the finish of the day.”

He mentioned WA solely equipped about 25 per cent of the nationwide potato chip market.

Two men stand in hi-vis gear and hair nets in a food processing plant.
Brian Piesse and Stephen Bendotti (proper) at WA Chip manufacturing plant in Manjimup.(ABC: Georgia Hargreaves)

Native enterprise below strain

Lami Mamiti took over administration of Albany fish and chip store, Crusty Crab, a few month in the past.

After solely a few weeks within the job, he fears he might want to step away from the enterprise fully, on account of lack of chip provide.

“We’re possibly rethinking our choice about having this store,” he mentioned.

“I’ve mainly acquired possibly two days’ price of chips after which I am undecided what is going on to occur after that.”

Fish and chip shop front.
Crusty Crab fish and chip store is struggling to produce sizzling potato chips.(ABC Nice Southern: Olivia Di Iorio)

As a brand new Mr Mamiti mentioned he was nonetheless making an attempt to construct a relationship with suppliers, being new to the trade.

“We sort of got here into the incorrect timing with regard to constructing a relationship, and having that favour,” he mentioned.

“Some established outlets have been right here for some time, they get that first alternative earlier than even the primary information [of the shortage] and get themselves ready for this, however I wasn’t in that place.”

Hands holding a washed white potato.
Australia is dealing with a nationwide potato chip scarcity.(ABC: Georgia Hargreaves)

Not low cost as chips

Mr Mamiti mentioned that he’s paying $4 a kilo for his chip provide, in comparison with $2 a kilo when he began.

Different eating places have been capable of take chips off the menu or substitute it with different gadgets corresponding to salad or rice, however fish and chip outlets like his would not have the identical flexibility.

Cooked fish and chips with lemon
Takeaway outlets are discovering chips have doubled in worth.(ABC Information: Cameron Atkins)

“Everybody simply likes to take that massive ball of chips and take it to the seaside or someplace sit down and have fish and chips. We will not afford to have that quantity,” Mr Mamiti mentioned.

“It is actually unhealthy, as a result of as a fish and chip store, we frequently promote chips at a very low worth, so households can afford it.”

“Now, we won’t even commerce it on the similar worth that we used to, or [we] cannot even get any of the chips,” he mentioned.

Ready for crop

Manjimup potato grower, Michael Smith, remains to be ready to begin harvest because of the cool spring.

“It is state-wide, would not matter whether or not they’re grown up in Myalup or whether or not it is down in Albany, simply the chilly spring has actually set issues again a bit,” he mentioned.

“Different growers have not made some huge cash previous couple of years out of potatoes, so there is definitely not too many new growers coming into the trade.”

By December Mr Smith ought to be into harvest, however he isn’t anticipating to begin till January.

A close up photo of hands holding potatoes that have just been dug out of the ground
Cool spring situations have impacted WA potato harvest.(ABC Rural: Jane McNaughton)

He often vegetation potatoes in September and expects all of them to germinate inside 4 weeks.

This yr, it took over 4 weeks to germinate, which was a delay from the beginning.

“When you get that chilly climate, it is very onerous to get them to develop any faster,” he mentioned.

“I would say dimension and yield will certainly be affected with our January harvest.”

“The east coast, if they’ve planted any potatoes, they have been late, so they will not see any on-line of their manufacturing unit into most likely at the very least March at this stage.”

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