As Australia’s potato shortage continues, a Melbourne man has shared a picture that reveals just how bad things have gotten.
The photo, taken at a Woolworths Metro in Melbourne’s CBD and posted to Reddit, shows a 165g packet of Red Rock Deli chips ticketed at the high price of $7.60.
The post left many Aussies outraged, with some going as far as to suggest a boycott.
“Stop buying them,” suggested one user, “The price will either come back or they stop getting made. We don’t have to support the company. These are a luxury not a necessity, remember.” Another user pointed out that the effective price per kilo of $46 makes the chips more expensive than traditionally more up-market snacks, commenting, “Give me luscious jumbo tiger prawns at $32kg over these any day”.
While some Reddit users pointed to the national potato shortage and put the price rise squarely down to costs passed on by farmers, others suspected there’s likely some profiteering going on as well.
“Companies are just taking advantage of the situation to raise their prices,” wrote one user. “More like corporate profit shortage,” another user offered, “It’s like every major company has used inflation and Covid as an excuse to make their products garbage, while silently and shamelessly charging us the same or more.”
Potato shortages not ending soon
With many of Australia’s potato growing regions impacted by flooding and above average rainfall, farmers say supply issues will not be resolved anytime soon. Speaking to ABC News, Katherine Myers from the Victorian Farmer’s Federation said growers have been unable to harvest enough potatoes to meet demand.
Ms Myers said potatoes “love warm, dry weather” and are “a very intensively farmed crop, so we do need to be able to get onto the ground multiple times during that season, to make sure they’re fit and healthy and we’re getting the best potato out to the consumer. We just haven’t had that this year. We’ve had challenges… which we’re starting to see flow-through to the supply chain now.”
Ms Myers went on to say that Australia produces 70 per cent of the potatoes eaten locally, with the 30 per cent shortfall usually filled by imported frozen product from Europe. “We saw big droughts in Europe, which is where we tend to fill our gaps from. So we just haven’t been able to fill what we normally would, through that European supply chain.”
Earlier this week, McDonald’s latest menu item, a potato scallop, enraged an Australian fish and chip shop owner, who accused the fast food giant of ‘stealing’ potatoes from smaller eateries. Ms Myers confirmed fast food chains are at the top of the pecking order when it came to farmers fulfilling orders, with supermarkets and then smaller businesses then following.
Supermarkets address high prices, shortages
A spokesperson for Woolworths told Yahoo News flooding had caused issues with potato pricing and availability, however the supermarket has refrained from limiting individual customers.
“Floods and poor growing conditions across the eastern seaboard resulted in a less than ideal harvest of potatoes, particularly those used to make packet chips or crisps,” the spokesperson said. “Poor growing conditions in Tasmania have also put pressure on the supply of frozen chips because of poor growing conditions on the Apple Isle.”
Rival Coles placed purchasing limits on frozen potato products last month and has confirmed that these restrictions are again in place. “Poor weather in the eastern states has affected supply of some frozen potato products across the industry,” a Coles spokesperson said. “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.”
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