Ah, the humble spud. Whether it's turned into a crispy and delicious chip smothered in sauce or is mashed, fried, roasted or crisped up into a potato cake, the starchy vegetable is one of those things that makes life bearable.
That's why we hate to be the bearers of bad news: Australia is currently in the midst of a potato shortage, and its end remains unclear. The one saving grace is that this spud crisis is mostly in relation to frozen products, meaning that you can still (generally) snag yourself a fresh tater in its purest form without too much of issue. It's bad news for your local takeaway, though.
So, why is this tragic event taking place? Well, potato yields in New South Wales and Victoria have been seriously compromised over the past year due to (yep, you guessed it) a wetter-than-average winter and widespread flooding.
As seen on SBS news, potato grower and Victorian Farmers Federation horticulture vice president Katherine Myers said that “potatoes are a set-season crop, so they need a four- to five-month period to come out of the ground… the prolonged wet weather made it too difficult to manage the crops that were in the ground, made it difficult to harvest the crops, and it meant that there were quite significant delays in getting the new crops planted”.
This sad fact means that not only have fewer potatoes grown, the ones that have are a lot smaller. That also means there are way fewer spuds hitting potato processing facilities for all our frozen potato needs. This, compounded with the drought in Europe, means that potato crops everywhere are suffering. And that's bad news for all ye frozen hash brown lovers.
To manage this crisis, Coles has set a purchase limit of two frozen potato products per person. Woolies, on the other hand, has not. Thankfully, there aren't any purchase limits in place for fresh potatoes.
Ms Myers went on to say to SBS News that; “we’re not likely to see good potato yields returning in the next 12 months. As farmers, our hearts go out to consumers, fish and chip shop owners, and restaurant owners, because we know how hard it is for us at the moment.”
May the power of the spuds be with you. Good luck.