Don’t panic, but … a nationwide potato shortage means pubs around the country may be forced to find an alternative to hot chips on their menus.
A combination natural disasters, international pressures and transport issues have created chaos for the Australian hospitality industry, with potato prices set to rise up to 40 per cent.
“The increase in the price of potatoes puts more financial pressure on pubs already facing increased costs including power, beer excise, drinks over the bar, transport and staff,” AHA national president David Canny said.
“Already, in the lead-up to Christmas, venues are being warned to start using other veggies with meals instead of the traditional chip, or, of course, there’s always the healthy salad option for pub-goers.”
4 Pines operations manager Tarek Ibrahim told The Daily Telegraph: “I will order 10 boxes [of chips] but only get two. Very soon people will order fish and chips, and not get the chips. We’ve ever so slightly reduced portion sizes, but we may have to soon put up signs to explain why if we reduce them further.
“We’ve always been extremely generous with chips as potatoes were always so cheap, but now they’re almost as expensive as the protein.”
Pub operator Lewis Leisure, which has hotels across Queensland and NSW, told ABC News that if the chip supply shortage extended beyond six months it may need to pass the cost on to patrons.
“We use around 200,000 kilograms of chips per year across our four venues so we could be looking at an additional half a million dollars in costs over a year,” Lewis Leisure head Brad Jenkins said.
Coles has imposed a nationwide temporary purchase limit for frozen potato chips, restricting customers to only two items, as the retailer battles potato supply issues.
A Coles statement said: “Due to supply issues of frozen potato chips, we have introduced a temporary purchase limit of two items per transaction.
“This will help to maintain availability for all customers. Thank you for your patience, we apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Clarkes Hill potato farmer Rod Guthrie said consecutive wet summers had derailed supply of the vegetables, with farms yielding around half their usual crops in Victoria, Tasmania, NSW and Queensland.