Potatoes revealed
Chipping Point

One of the last things I thought climate change would bring us was a hot potato chip shortage.

But that, according to the woman taking my order at the Walkerville Caravan Park kiosk, is where we’re at – out of chips.

Located a stones throw from Warratah Bay, I genuinely thought my favourite beachside burger joint would disappear under rising sea levels long before it ever ran out of the planet’s fifth largest agricultural crop (sugar cane is number one btw).

Each year the world’s farmers grow a third of a billion tonnes of potatoes – China and India grow the most while Australia, with a million tonnes or around 40kg for each of us, ranks 44th.

The unprecedented floods this Spring have meant our potato crops have been ruined and new plantings have been delayed – the result has been not enough russet burbanks going to McCain and Simplot’s frozen chip processing plants.

Belgium and the Netherlands, the two countries we source most of the 120,000 tonnes of frozen potatoes we import each year, are in the midst of a 1-in-500 year drought which is causing a potato shortage over there too.

When you compare our current situation to the two years of lockdown – things are completely topsy-turvy – back in 2020 & 2021 potato growers around the world were forced to dump 1000’s of tonnes of spuds after restaurants and fast food outlets closed their doors and turned off their fryers.

In the face of the chip crisis naturally I reached out to Fair Food’s outspoken potato-grower, Joe Sgro (that’s him and his potatoes below).

Joe, as is his way, had a few choice words about the situation. 

Go to the supermarket and there’s plenty of fresh spuds on the shelves – why aren’t they getting a bag of sebago’s and cutting them up like we used to in the old days?

Seamlessly he hopped into the big frozen potato processors,

“My old man always said the only reason we have frozen chips is because the bastards make a fortune by getting spuds for nothing off the growers.”

Although he tends to use a sledgehammer Joe often hits the nail on the head.

Our food system is ingenious but why is it that when the 10kg bags of frozen chips run out we’ve become blind to using the fresh potatoes right in front of us?  

Why is it we pay our chip potato growers so little that instead of being able to properly care for their land they have to resort to using cheaper artificial fertilisers and poisonous agrochemicals to produce their crops.  

Why is it that when a chip crisis comes along we’re not making the connection between the state of our climate and the way we’re growing our third of a billion tonnes of potatoes?

My take home from not being able to take home my chips is that food, as basic as it is, is the one thing where our choices can regularly make a difference – a difference to the way we see ourselves, a difference to the way we care for our farmers, a difference to the way we look after the Earth.

Have a great week


And if you’d like to make your own chips, you can find our organic spuds in the veg section here.

Fair Food supports regenerative farmers and makers and proudly gives 100% of our profits (over $2 million so far) to CERES and our School for Nature and Climate.

Joe Sgro


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