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Japan Businesses Technology

The Great Japan Potato-Chip Crisis: Panic Buying, $12 Bags (bloomberg.com) 110

Demand for potato chips has surged in Japan this week, with products on offer for 6 times their retail price online after Japanese snack company Calbee halted the sale of some of its most popular chip brands. From a report: Calbee's pizza-flavored chips were going for about 1,250 yen ($12) on Yahoo Japan Corp.'s auction website Friday. One bag usually sells for less than 200 yen. Photos of near-empty shelves at their local supermarkets were trending on Twitter. The crunch came after Calbee warned on Monday that it will temporarily halt the sale of 15 types of potato chips due to a bad crop in Hokkaido, a key potato-producing region. The northern island was hit by a record number of typhoons last year. Calbee, which has a market value of 507.9 billion yen and is 20 percent-owned by PepsiCo Inc., has a 73 percent market share of potato chips. Potato chips are a big deal in Japan, a country also known for its senbei rice crackers and Pocky sticks. Calbee's potato-snack products were the most and second-most popular snacks in a TV Asahi poll of 10,000 people and 13 confectionery makers last year, and the subject of a primetime show that lasted more than two hours.
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The Great Japan Potato-Chip Crisis: Panic Buying, $12 Bags

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  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @04:44PM (#54236541) Journal

    Reminds me of the butter crisis in Norway a few years ago, the neighboring country Sweden would have Swedes smuggle butter into Norway and actually sell these for as much as 1.000 NOK (roughly 116 USD) per half kilo. Don't believe it? Well - check out the sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] , http://gawker.com/5869463/norw... [gawker.com]

  • "The crunch came" --- ah, I see what you did there. :-)

  • by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Friday April 14, 2017 @05:01PM (#54236663) Journal
    As long as cheeto and dew trees are safe, we don't care.
  • I'm thinking a couple of containers of Idaho's finest russets are all that is necessary to keep Japan in the chips... Somebody call Idaho and start shipping...

    Better yet, call a couple of US based chip fryers and start running those fryers 24/7 until we bury them in chips....

    Seriously? People are paying $12/bag? Unless there are some *serious* tariffs on the importation of snack foods and potatoes, I detect a HUGE amount of profit is possible here. Surely somebody has started shipping these things to

    • by SEE ( 7681 )

      Well, you see, they could, if Japanese agricultural protectionism didn't get in the way. But it does and so they can't.

    • Japan has protective trade policies (i.e. no imports) on many food items it considers strategically vital. Potato is one of them.

      I agree with this for the most part, you don't wanna be at the mercy of your neighbors when fecal matter starts flying. Only the very shortsighted or stupid think all nations will get along singing kumbaya all the time. Ability to keep your population alive when international relations go south is pretty damn vital.

      • If you are at war with Idaho, and there is money to be made, someone else will ship you potatoes. Potatoes are hardly critical foodstuffs in Japan. Japan has protectionism for monetary reasons only, like many Asian countries.
        • Sure, potato is hardly critical foodstuffs in Japan *now* when things are going swimmingly. But envision another WW2 type scenario. You are blockaded by US (or some other) navy, whole sections of the country is devastated by aerial bombardment and rice production has gone to shit. You need any and all foods you can get your hands on to keep your people alive. Potato is one of those foods that for small amount of land and other resources, you get quite a lot of calories, is easy to grow on your poor island s

    • The US Armed Forces are already on it! They have announced that they are going to drop their newest invention on Japan: The MOABOC - The Mother Of All Bags of Chips!

      A military spokesman is quoted as saying, "It's the right-sized bag, for the right-sized job."

      Out of consideration of civilians, gallons of sweep-syrupy soda will also be dropped.

      . . . and some weed to give them the munchies, in case they need help getting started on the chips . . .

    • Better yet, call a couple of US based chip fryer

      Considering Pepsi (who owns Frito-Lay) also owns a good chunk of the relevant Japanese comapny, I think there would be worry about cannibalizing sales.

    • Actually russets do not make good chips. Round whites are better with the Atlantic being to most popular in my area. Frito Lay has proprietary varieties that their growers plant. Why yes, I did grow chip potatoes, there is a 50 acre field past my front yard just about ready to harvest. Look up Hastings, FL.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    AND EAT IT!

    *That was a Death Note reference in case you didn't notice.

  • Why the hell would anybody want pizza flavored potato chips, let alone pay money for them? Silly people!
    • The last time I visited the US, I found biscuit & gravy flavored chips.
      I just had to try them and indeed they tasted like chips with gravy on them, I know this because back in the 80's it was in fashion here in Denmark to serve a few potato chips on the plate along with gravy and a slice of some sort of roast.

      • by GNious ( 953874 )

        back in the 80's it was in fashion here in Denmark to serve a few potato chips on the plate along with gravy and a slice of some sort of roast.

        ....still doing this every Jul :)

    • Pizza flavour is the best flavour :) sadly usually lacking in North America
    • by rklrkl ( 554527 )

      Pizza flavoured crisps sound interesting to me - bring them on to combine two of my favourite junk foods! Pizza's no more weird than pickled onion, worcester sauce or prawn cocktail flavoured crisps - which are my current top 3 flavours...

    • by Jiro ( 131519 )

      I don't know. Why in the world would they want rice combined with seaweed and raw fish?

      You know, Japan is a foreign country. Foreign countries have different food than we do. We like to think of hundreds of year old foods when we think of foreign food, but if the foreign country is modernized it'll have junk food and the junk food is going to be different from America just like the traditional food is going to be different from America.

      Besides, you can get pizza-flavored potato chips in the US, they just

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        I'd guess if they didn't have container transport for 200 years, they would have to adapt to what they could grow on land and catch from the sea. Breeding fish in paddy fields and catching them as the rice fields are drained is an interesting way of getting two harvests from one.

    • Because the tongue is a sensitive organ that causes the brain to release endorphins when stimulated in ways pizza spice can.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      We had hedgehog flavored crisps in the UK once. There are some crisps that are made directly from apples rather than potatoes. The Far Easterns have squid flavored ice cream and Doritos. We also have blue corn and black pepper crisps which are more unusual colours. For really spicy crisps, there is Bombay Mix and Chili Peanuts. I'd like to know if there is anything more spicy.

    • I admit that I do really like those potato chips. You're missing out on something delicious.
  • So now I guess this is just another meta-comment on the increasingly sad state of Slashdot? I was really disappointed by the lack of jokes on the rich target, but saddened by the lack of mention of climate or famine. Also not a single comment moderated "insightful", but maybe that's just what passes for truth in advertising these days?

    On the official topic, I was actually ahead of the story when I saw it on TV, but I didn't realize what the full story was until later on. In one sense it is kind of funny tha

  • Has anybody checked the radar at Pearl Harbor? 'cause this is a Japanese national crisis. And everybody knows where the most chips per capita are in the world. That's right, 7-11.

    Stay awake tonight, guys.

  • Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports of potato-hoarding warlords in the north of Hokkaido have emerged as authorities remain unwilling to even estimate the number of deaths the crisis has caused.

  • I think it just died.
    I mean, as in: right now!
    I feel so sad.

    (Did I break the Haiku rules again? Damn!)

  • If only there were a way to move potatoes from areas where they are plentiful (say, Idaho) to areas experiencing a shortage. But, no, it's impossible.

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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