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After months of potato supply shortages, sales competition among potato chip makers is intensifying as two major makers prepare to return to normal operations. | ISTOCK

Japan’s potato chip makers battle it out as spud supplies recover

Five months after a potato shortages cause a halt in the sales of some potato chip products, competition is now intensifying between two major snack makers as they return to normal operations.

Calbee Inc. and rival Koike-Ya Inc. will resume sales of almost all of their potato chip brands within the month, after securing an adequate supplies of potatoes. The two companies also plan to launch new snack products.

The companies suspended or ended sales of some brands of their potato chips this spring, after a poor potato crop in Hokkaido due to flood damage caused by typhoons last summer.

The potato chip “shortage” captured public attention.

Since then, Calbee has made efforts to diversify its sources of raw materials.

The company has been working to transform rice paddies in Iwate, Miyagi and Kumamoto prefectures into potato fields. It has also been promoting the development of disease-resistant potato varieties.

Koike-Ya plans to promote mechanization and expand joint operations to deal with manpower shortages at farms.

For new products, Calbee will introduce potato chips that taste like local specialties of each of the 47 prefectures, launching the different varieties in stages starting this month. They are expected to be priced at around ¥120 per pack.

Calbee plans to set up a special website for the campaign, aiming to cultivate consumers’ loyalty to local foods, company officials said.

This autumn Koike-Ya will start selling a brand of chips made from a rare variety of potato produced in the town of Imakane, Hokkaido, in limited quantities at around ¥322 per pack.

The company also plans to launch new products targeting adults. “We want to create a premium market” for potato chips, said Koike-Ya President Akira Sato.

Source: The Japan Times

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