business

No end in sight for Japan's potato chip crisis

46 Comments
By Toru YAMANAKA

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Protectionism on rice AND potatoes? The Japanese government has their heads so far up their keisters they can't see the sun rise.

How can a country that imports 60% of its food (highest rate in the industrialized world) think that restricting access to food is a good thing?

11 ( +14 / -3 )

Yesterday the nacho cheese Doritos at my OK discount store were replaced by mike popcorn. It's now officially a crisis.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

proper title: "No end in sight for Japan's (domestic grown) potato chip crisis"

if they think this ploy will increase the demand of chips they are wrong, people will just buy a cheaper more available alternative and get used to that. when the chips come back to normal it will be too late. they do nto realize this product is not needed.

they could import to alleviate the "crisis" but in a closed protected market no way. you wonder why the US is putting the pressure on? They could have tons of US chips here tomorrow if they wanted.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I'd say that to call it a "crisis" is an exaggeration, in a country with a hundred different snacks on the shelves. Most people won't notice there are no chips.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Government protections for vested interests cost us all.

Butter, potatoes, on and on.

Best way to boost consumer incomes would be to remove these artificial price barriers.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

For all of those who think protectionism is great, this is a problem generated by protectionism folks.

The first thought I had when I heard about this is was, "just import them". But of course, the problem is that they can't, at least not at any rate that would make sense for their bussiness.

But if companies are willing to reather kill their lineup to just import the goods, it means that protectionism isn't "protecting" their bussiness, it is actually making it harder for them to do bussiness.

Of course, the goverment is going to blame it on the thyphoon so that Japanese people get their "it can't be helped" attitude... even thou it COULD be, if the country wasn't trying to implement protectionist policies.

In this instance, who wins? The potato producers are unable to sell anything, because they have nothing, the chips producers are unable to sell their product because they are unable to buy enough potatoes, and the cosumer are unable to buy the products they want. EVERYBODY LOSES.

The worst thing is that for the most part protectionism isn't even necesary in these kind of industries, because if you print a "grown in japan" label to it, Japanese people preffer that product, and it means that the industry is probably not going to die.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Just bake or boil potatoes and mash them up with spices. Doesn't give the crisp but it does fill you up nicely. Removes all the added salt, oil, and junk as well

3 ( +4 / -1 )

you are blind to the problem, they should be importing US chips, not potatoes

Potato chips are notoriously expensive to transport because of the low density of the product: The bags need air to insulate the chips against damage.

I haven't noticed any shortages but that be because I'm up here in Hokkaido. The butter shortages were definitely a thing, though.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Calbee, Japan's top snacks maker, has stopped selling about 30 kinds of crisps in all or part of the country since the middle of April.

Yes, they stopped selling about 30 least sold brands out of about 70. Here is their current line-up of potato chips.

http://www.calbee.co.jp/shohinkensaku/list.php

Luis David Yanez Today 11:53 am JST

For all of those who think protectionism is great, this is a problem generated by protectionism folks.

I think it is more of a problem of new marketing method pretending as a news.

M3M3M3 Today 07:19 am JST

Yesterday the nacho cheese Doritos at my OK discount store were replaced by mike popcorn. It's now officially a crisis.

I think nacho chips are made of corn.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Calbee announced last week they are also using american potatoes and have been unable too secure enough to cover the shortage.

Other food shops are also feeling the pinch.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

3rd biggest economy in the world has no potatoes, little butter....looking good.

PS the cheese is fit for a Motor Lodge Motel not for general use.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

TrevorPeace

I will say potatoes are difficult to transport and being basically a low cost vegetable the price would greatly increase when shipped by sea which would be the only way into Japan. Unless coming down from Russia via the Nothern Isles. I guess your Prince Edwards are transported across Canada via train and remain in the same country. Check this site out

http://www.tis-gdv.de/tis_e/ware/gemuese/kartoffe/kartoffe.htm

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wonder if this isn't an easy way for these companies to raise prices without a huge outcry from customers. They claim there are no potatoes, or a shortage, they can only produce so much, and their hands are tied because of government regulations, so the only thing they can do is raise prices. Will other industries start to do the same. Abe would be happy becasue it would further help his goal of reaching 2% inflation, and as we have seen his cabinet's popularity is impervious to any criticism. A win win for Abe, and we the customers are the losers, as usual.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

They are all the same flavor just different makers, perhaps we could get some more corn chips!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A dizzying number of government regulations on potato imports is exacerbating the shortage problem.

Oh no, say it aint so...this is the same Japan whose finance minister regularly preaches about benefits of " free trade" right?

>

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I don't see what the shortage has to do with protectionism? The crisps are made from organic vegetables, potatoes which are procured from growers in Hokkaido which are subject to weather conditions just like every other type of farming. The crops are produced only once per year.

Potatoes are a difficult crop to transport over great distances. Calbee could look into procuring from more than one location to prevent the current problems. Calbee are a good company doing the right sort of business management.

Just got a gift of potatoes from the Ryukyu Islands, great taste and size.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There numerous YouTube videos for making homemade crisps

https://youtu.be/kgvowYMKk24

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Although some find them ap"peel"ing, they are cheap as chips, and nothing to get in a hash about. Hardly a hot potato.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

TrevorPeace

PEI to Victoria 6032 km Victoria to Tokyo 7500 km

1 ( +1 / -0 )

very sad, i am happy still have few bags in stock, i love calbee potato chips.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Calbee announced last week they are also using american potatoes and have been unable too secure enough to cover the shortage.

Other food shops are also feeling the pinch.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

You mean like Carnival, Seijo Ishi, Kinokuniya, etc, etc are offering?

No shortage just hit the right shops, and I prefer Europan crisps over US ones anyway.

Why does everything has to come from or via the USA?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The stores shelves in our local area are empty managed to buy one bag yesterday.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A dizzying number of government regulations on potato imports is exacerbating the shortage problem.

Like many of the posters have rightly pointed out, this is not just about Potatoes, but a whole plethora of protectionist policies that limit the options of the general consumer here.  Beef is extremely overpriced, as is butter. 

Protectionism on rice AND potatoes? The Japanese government has their heads so far up their keisters they can't see the sun rise.

Yep. 

How can a country that imports 60% of its food (highest rate in the industrialized world) think that restricting access to food is a good thing?

See your first comment.  You nailed it. 

Luis David Yanez-Agree. excellent post.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This is what comes of protectionism. Wipe out the thing being producted and suddenly you have nothing but panic. I'd hardly call this a 'crisis', though. The butter problem is a whole lot worse, albeit the same reason.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

What will be next after butter and potatoes? Bread?

Military bases have plenty of chips.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I've been hooked on Toritilla chips myself.

Made from corn, and imported anyway. I don't know any Japanese brands.

I stopped eating Japanese chips after one bag had a fishy flavor. Something in the ingredients.

I haven't seen any shortage in Japanese or imported Pringles though, which I usually eat when I'm not eating the Toritilla chips.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I doubt Calbee's potato chips are made from organic vegetables. That's not how farming in Japan works. They'll be non-GMO, but the fields will be doused in what are probably world-leading amounts of chemicals, all of which, the neo-nictotinoids included, are perfectly safe we are told.

If they were organic, it would be written on all the packets in large characters.

Off topic, but I think its funny that Japanese chips have a large picture of potato chips on them but still have "POTATO CHIPS" written in huge katakana, much huger than the brand or the flavor, as if someone might mistake a packet of potato chips for something else.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

as if someone might mistake a packet of potato chips for something else.

...like a bag of crisps?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@kohakuebisu 

If they were organic, it would be written on all the packets in large characters.

The last time I checked potatoes are organic as are all vegetables and fruits. I didn't say organically grown but Calbee have good policies on all aspects of its business.

If you are concerned a visit to the Calbee website should enlighten you

https://www.calbee.com

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The Pringles Company (in an effort to avoid taxes levied against "luxury foods" like chips in the UK) once even argued that the potato content of their chips was so low that they are technically not even potato chips.

So if they're not made of potatoes, what are they exactly?

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/07/the-shocking-true-story-of-how-pringles-are-made.aspx

Video on Pringle Making

https://youtu.be/yEb7Lk9ke6o

0 ( +0 / -0 )

potato chips matter. just hit up my 7-11 and my favorite chili flavored chips were in stock as well as all other brands,,,

0 ( +0 / -0 )

first and foremost I must say- got nothing else to say frankly- that I am at a loss...a Crisps Crisis, you say! oh my Lordy! truly, infinitely, flabbergasted !  What in the heck is a crisp, anyway ?? Give me a break! I am 'crispy' in the morning( or should that be frisky...?).  But  seriously I don't care how many millions say crisps- even though I do like the word...  Potatoes, please. Irish famine potatoes...i'm crispy.  So, not withstanding the cultural relevance of the words crisp and chips...Hey! fish and chips anyone?! Yeah! cut myself off...let's just amalgamate and eliminate that seriously irritating word 'crisp'. On a serious note, I just strolled down the 'shops' and turned my nose at overpriced potato chips all the long of the aisle.  No true crisis of chips, but rather an unwanted word that makes no sense to us non-Brits.  Just to close the loop here...fried potato is very literal, yet French Fries are very delicious, Ha!  So, my deliberate renovations can be summed up quite succinctly: Got  me self a hard craving for fried fish and French fries....We has got a tradition of giving good renditions of Brits, the likes of Jim Carrey and Mike Myers, so give me a royal break already!  Oh, what fun!!  Deletion, anyone??  Or just a slew of negatives...oh, what am I saying?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@zichi, potatoes are not hard to transport; I can buy 10 pounds of Prince Edward Island potatoes, here in Victoria, BC, for less than $5. PEI is farther from me than Tokyo.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I stopped by two combinis on the way home yesterday and both were stocked fully with a ton of potato chips. This hysteria is probably Hokkaido officials creating a false demand for their products.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have been eating the same potato for about 15 years now. Yawn.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Loads of bags of crisps in my office thankfully, i'm gonna go and panic buy/hoard a load of them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No shortage of Crisps here too.

Shops are well stocked. granted selection is a bit less than normal.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lots of potato chips in stores here on Okinawa.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I stopped eating Japanese chips after one bag had a fishy flavor. Something in the ingredients.

Probably fish is my guess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why does everything has to come from or via the USA?

Not true. In Japan, they also like stuff from France. So, that's two countries.

Three, if you count Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Probably fish is my guess.

Hah, yeh. It was some kind of fish oil or something. But the chips weren't advertised as having a fish flavor, they were regular salt or pepper flavored. I have to admit I'm sensitive to anything seafood related.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm surprised at how many of you eat the potato chips on offer here, I find them much too oily. Chipstar actually made me ill and I had to drink diluted vinegar to sort myself out. That said I was completely unaware that there was a chip crisis going on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some oc the local stuff is ok.

Besides the potato shortage anyons notjced the prics increase of Onions?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the price would greatly increase when shipped by sea which would be the only way into Japan. 

Zichi, it's 21st century. For big amounts, potatoes by air from Europe to Japan, that costs you 50 cents a kg. 1 kg makes 20 bags of that crap ? 50 ? Their issue is only a certain type of potato can be processed in a given plant, it was probably cultivated at their demand in Hokkaido and not available elsewhere. If they put different size or more/less watery puds as usually, their machines will not work. It's no joke. A local industrial bakery was stuck because for a few months (after bird flu culling), they couldn't get big size eggs fitting their machines. The production line was blocked. Changing equipment for just a while is not technically possible in these monster factories. So they wait. And the marketing service takes the relay to cash on penury...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Calbee announced last week they are also using american potatoes and have been unable too secure enough to cover the shortage.

you are blind to the problem, they should be importing US chips, not potatos

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

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