Repeat droughts cause kumara crisis

JOHN ANTHONY
Last updated 12:18 04/04/2014

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Kumara chips have been in short supply for the second year in a row because of consecutive droughts in New Zealand's kumara growing capital.

Kumara growers in Northland's Kaipara region, where most of New Zealand's kumara are harvested, say three consecutive summers of drought have affected crops.

Delta Kumara general manager Locky Wilson said yields from the current crops being harvested were not great.

"It's definitely not going to be an oversupply."

The harvest meant there was a good supply of fresh, cheap kumara on the shelves but processed kumara supply had been limited, he said.

Processed kumara was stored for longer periods and was used to make chips.

Warren Suckling of The Kumara Box said kumara planted early in the season looked good because it had received early rain but the second half of the crop, planted later in the season, had not received any and was looking sparse.

A big seller of kumara chips, BurgerFuel, recently had signs up in its stores apologising to customers that kumara chips were temporarily off the menu.

BurgerFuel Australasia general manager Craig Notman said all of its 35 stores in New Zealand had sold out of kumara chips, some for up to four weeks.

This was the second year in a row BurgerFuel had faced a kumara chip shortage. "We certainly have had some disappointed customers. Now that they're back on the menu it's fine, there's no issues and they're flying out the door again."

Notman said the locally sourced chips were back on sale at all BurgerFuel stores this week. "Our sales volumes have gone through the roof, which doesn't make it easy for our suppliers to forecast."

BurgerFuel would stick with its local supplier of kumara chips and not import kumara chips. 

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- The Dominion Post

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