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Hokkaido potato shortage causes discontinuation of chip brands

A 60-gram packet of Calbee "French salad" potato chips, which will stop being sold, is seen here. (Photo courtesy of Calbee Inc.)

A shortage of potatoes from Hokkaido has meant that snack food makers Calbee Inc. and Koikeya Inc. have been forced to stop the sale of some of their potato chip brands.

    The spud shortage from Japan's northernmost prefecture is attributable to a typhoon that hit the region in summer 2016. As a result, Calbee and Koikeya have struggled to secure enough potatoes to manufacture their full range of potato chip brands.

    Calbee will stop the sale of 18 of its brands including its "French salad" flavored potato chips, following a final shipment on April 15. In addition, with regard to shipments after April 22, the company will temporarily halt the sale of 15 of its brands such as "pizza potato."

    In response to the Hokkaido potato shortage, Calbee increased its potato imports from the U.S., but as a public relations representative from the company explains, "Many of the imported potatoes did not reach the required level of quality, and we could not cover our full production range." The company will resume sales of the discontinued products once the level of potato production returns to normal.

    In the case of Koikeya, the company stopped the sale of seven of its brands, including "Rich consomme," following a final shipment on March 25, and temporarily halted the sale of nine other brands. It is thought that potatoes grown in Hokkaido make up 70 to 80 percent of Koikeya's production volume.

    In May, both companies will try to compensate for the potato shortage by using spuds harvested in Kyushu, but it is uncertain when they will able to gather enough potatoes to cover the suspended brands.

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