The national potato shortage is hitting the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla, with some hospitality venues having to alter their menus and even close their doors.
Owner of the Blue Octopus Take Away in Dalmeny on the South Coast, Andrew Stewart told East Coast Radio he can’t source any of the specific type of potato chips his business needs.
“We actually buy them from wholesalers on the South Coast and they’re just not able to produce the the chips,” Mr Stewart said.
“We’re trying different avenues but everybody’s out and apparently it’s getting worse,” he explained.
Heavy rainfall and major flooding has impacted the country’s potato production, causing a 25 per cent spike in the wholesale potato price.
While a shortage of potatoes has been ongoing for some months now businesses like Andrew’s have been managing the situation.
“Unfortunately with the influx of the tourists and increase in trade, we’ve dried up the allocation of potato chips, so we can’t even get our own at the moment because the variety of potato that you need to make chips isn’t available,” Mr Stewart said.
“I’ve rang suppliers in Wollongong, Sydney all the way down to Victoria and unfortunately everybody’s on the same allocation so it’s just the fact that we are going through the volume that we’ve probably run out earlier than some other places but everybody’s going to be in the same boat apparently.”
Roy Samarawickrama is the proprietor at Roy’s Fish and Chips in Batemans Bay, and he and his wife, had to close their business for multiple days during the busy Christmas New Year period because they ran out of chips.
“After Christmas and Boxing Day we closed our shop then the next Thursday I managed to find some potatoes, some different ones, that meant we could open and serve chips again,” Mr Samarawickrama said.
“On the South Coast, we had the fires, then after that the corona (virus), then we thought everything is going smoothly but then something was coming, the potato problem.”
General Manager from Durkin Produce in Thorpedale, Victoria, Matt Steendam said the shortage was due to poor weather conditions.
“There’s a shortage of potatoes at the minute just as a result of the growing conditions all through the East Coast with predominantly wet weather, with crops in Victoria are behind because of wet,” Mr Steendam said.
“We’re just about to start harvest in Victoria, so expect supply to increase in the coming weeks,” he said.
Businesses like Blue Octopus Take Away in Dalmeny, are finding themselves having to come up with creative menu options to replace the classic potato chip.
“We’re doing potato scallops (as the main side) because that’s a different variety potatoes that you use for that one, we do pizza as well so we’re pushing the pizza side of things and we’re going to do a pulled pork burger and try a few different things to try and alleviate the issue of not having any chips,” owner of Blue Octopus Take Away in Dalmeny, Andrew Stewart said.
“I got told that the other fish and chip shop in Narooma is only doing lunch not dinners and no chips, they are only doing fish,” Mr Stewart continued.
“There was another post online recently of a South Coast cafe that’s only doing chips with meals, you can’t just buy chips on their own, it has to come with a meal, as they don’t have enough to do just hot chips on their own.”
General Manager from Durkin Produce in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, Matt Steendam is confident businesses on the South Coast won’t have to wait to long for the shortage to ease.
“The harvest that’s starting in Victoria soon will improve the supply levels through all the east coast of Australia including South Coast of New South Wales, so yeah I’d expect through the course of February and March supply will increase.”
Coles has confirmed it will continue with customer buying limits on packs of frozen potato products as the nation grapples with the potato shortage.
The restrictions are still being enforced a month after they were first introduced on December 15.
Image: Scott Abernathy, Blue Octopus Take Away