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Calbee, Koike-ya halt snack production amid Japan's potato shortage

Calbee and Koike-Ya are halting production of 49 potato chip products due to potato shortages. Pic: ©iStock/gemenacom

Inclement weather has led to Japan’s smallest harvest of potatoes since 1983, prompting the country’s snack giants to stop production of several potato snacks.

Calbee has temporarily halted production of 15 products and permanently discontinued 18 items following Japan’s worst potato harvest in 34 years.

Calbee makes about half of the country’s potato snacks, including Kappa Ebisen Shrimp Chips and Jagarico Salad Potato Sticks.

The shortage has also effected Calbee’s main rival, Koike-ya, which makes the Kara Mucho and Koikeya Potato Chips.

Like Calbee, the manufacturer has temporarily suspended production of nine products and permanently ended seven snack items.

Potato crunch

Four typhoons struck Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, last August. The dense agricultural area produces 80% of the country’s potatoes.

To make up for the shortfall, the snack makers increased their US potato imports, but this still did not meet demand.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, potato prices have risen almost 20% every month since last October.

In Tokyo, 1kg of potatoes cost ¥402 ($3.67), up from ¥336 ($3.06) a year ago.

On Tuesday, Calbee’s shares fell by 1.2%, while Koike-ya saw its shares tumble by 3.5%.

Both companies have declined to comment.

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