Brace Yourselves Because Hot Chip Prices Are About To Increase
Potatoes are the latest veggie to cop the wrath of the cost of living crisis.
In yet another blow to Australians struggling with the rising cost of living, farmers have warned that the price of potatoes is about to skyrocket. Think lettuce crisis, but tastier.
Farmers are warning that prices could increase by as much as 30 percent, which means your usual 4kg bag of spuds could cost up to $12 as produce shortages and increased production costs hit farmers.
“Our cost of production is the main driver here, fuel prices, electricity, wages and also the cost of fertiliser is definitely driving prices up,” NSW potato farmer James Weir told the Today show, noting that the war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on fertiliser prices. “The fertiliser prices have really caught us by surprise and there’s no end in sight for that either.”
A similar sentiment was echoed by Victorian potato farmer Tony Cummaudo. “The cost of production has gone up, between fertiliser, wages, machinery – everything has gone up through the roof,” Cummaudo told the Herald Sun. “The high cost of living is affecting everybody – this has caused a flow-on effect for farmers.”
According to the National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson, farmers are dealing with fertiliser prices up 89 percent from last year, while fuel prices have increased by 50 percent, resulting in “eye-watering” production costs.
The ongoing floods across large parts of New South Wales have also impacted potato supply as some farmers have been unable to plant crops altogether as their properties have been submerged.
Farmers And Suppliers Are Butting Heads Over Prices
Despite the huge increase in production costs, potato farmers are struggling to actually get more money for the produce from food manufacturers.
Last week, farmers in Tasmania were forced to reject a second offer made by major food manufacturer Simplot after it was still not enough to match the rising cost of production.
“We’ve got sprays, diesel, machinery costs … everything has just gone up, and our growers can’t sustain growing at the current prices we’re getting for our potatoes,” Sassafras farmer Scott Rockliff told the ABC. “Most of us want to grow spuds for the next 20 years, but if we can’t keep our head above water with costs it’s going to die its natural death.”
Get Ready To Pay More For Your Hot Chips
In addition to the rising cost of potatoes, increasing freight costs are making it even more expensive to get your serving of hot chips for a reasonable price.
Over in Western Australia, the state’s only hot chip producer had to issue a warning for increased prices after his gas bill skyrocketed by nearly half a million dollars last month.
“That’s [an additional] $400,000,” Bendotti Exporters non-executive chair Brian Piesse told the ABC of the company’s 60 percent gas bill increase. Gas is a major cost of our production. So, we’ve had to announce another increase to reflect that.”
Additionally, McCain — one of Australia’s major frozen chip brands — is in price negotiations with 70 potato farmers over contracts for nearly 100,000 tonnes of produce, which farmers say is costing them more than ever. Even chips that are made fresh in-store will likely see a price hike in the coming weeks, with potato shortages and fuel prices bumping up the price of your beloved hot chips.
“We don’t use frozen chips, we use fresh potatoes and the trucks come from the Adelaide Hills, diesel cost is now reflecting on the potato price as well,” Chicken Chef owner Terry told the Herald Sun of the situation in Adelaide. “Apart from that, that’s one of the main factors but the eastern seaboard is completely flooded and they lost all their crops.
“Whatever potatoes are around, they’ve just gone through the roof.”