Japan Is Panicking Because It Is Running Out of Potato Chips

The ‘Great Potato Chip Crisis’ has Japanese customers buying crisps for $12 a bag, thanks to a bad potato crop

It’s a ca-‘snack’-strophe!

In Japan, potato chips are quickly disappearing from shelves in a greasy-fingered emergency that has the entire nation paying quadruple for access to salty, crispy snacks. After a rash of typhoons caused a bad potato crop in Hokkaido — a major potato-producing region of Japan — Calbee, a popular potato chip producer owned by PepsiCo, announced that it would stop the sale of 15 different chip varieties. A potato chip-producing rival, Koike-ya Inc., has also halted the sale of nine of its snack products.

The potato chip shortage has caused many enterprising snackers to buy chips off shelves in bulk and resell them online for quadruple the price. According to Bloomberg, Calbee chips were going for 1,250 yen ($12) on Japan’s eBay-like website this week.

The focus thus far has been on potato chips in the snack-loving archipelago country, but pretty soon the severe potato shortage could affect chain restaurants that sell millions of French fries daily.


“The impact of poor harvest of potatoes from Hokkaido is spreading. In addition to potato chips which are sold out in stores such as supermarkets, crisis is approaching,” a translation of Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper reads. “There are also views that the yield of potatoes from Hokkaido will not increase so much, and the impact of the potato crisis may prolong.”