To many people, Japanese food may seem to be the perfect embodiment of a well-balanced diet, with each plate having the right portions of nutrients that one may need throughout the day. However, what most people don’t know is that Japan is just like any other country when it comes to junk food. In fact, most junk food in Japan are so good, it’s actually hard to stop once you try them. Potato chips are no doubt the no. 1 grab-and-go junk food that everyone loves. But it seems like there’s a potato chip shortage crisis for potato chip lovers all over Japan!
If there’s a Japanese store in your country, you might have tried eating Japanese potato chips once or twice in your life. Japanese potato chips are so unique compared to those in other countries, with hundreds of flavors being sold year round. Popular potato chip flavors in Japan include lightly salted, nori (海苔), and consommé. But since this country loves taking everything a step up, they have provided other weird, unusual, and strange flavors such as wasabi (わさび) and cola (コーラ), fruit flavors like banana, orange, and peach, and even sushi (寿司) flavors like salmon and eel. There’s a whole bunch of potato chip flavors to choose from in this country!
Upon watching the daily morning news on April 14, 2017, many were struck with the news of a potato chip shortage in Japan. The reason for the shortage was the number of typhoons that hit the northern part of the country in 2016, which devastatingly affected the crop production of potatoes.
Large potato chip makers, Calbee (カルビー) and Koikeya (湖池屋), are also affected by this and have currently placed some of their potato chip selections, such as big bags, pizza, kataage (堅あげ), and mucho (ムーチョ), on hold or completely stopped.
But that’s not all, there are also people taking advantage of this crisis called “Yami Potechi (闇ポテチ),” or “Dark Potato Chips” in English. Some potato chips, especially those whose production were already put on halt, are being sold and auctioned over the Internet at unbelievable prices! Regular potato chips in Japan only cost 100 to 200 yen per pack, but due to the ongoing shortage, some people are selling it for around 10,000 yen for six packs. Imagine, six packs for 10,000 yen is already worth 50 packs for the regular price in the market!
Shortages of any crop is never a good thing. I actually thought the news might just be an exaggeration, but going to the supermarket, you might be shocked to find your favorite flavor not available on the shelf anymore. The funny thing about Japan, though, is that the news mostly focused on pointing out the shortage of potato chips rather than the potatoes itself.
As someone who loves chips, I’m actually a bit afraid not to see my favorite nori shio (のりしお) flavor on the shelf, which I’m hoping wouldn’t happen. I’m really hoping and wishing for the potato crop production to get back on track.
Now for those of you who are living in Japan, are you feeling the potato chip shortage in your local supermarket? And is your favorite kind/flavor still safe from the ongoing shortage?