Drought may threaten popcorn supplies

Popcorn fans may be on the edge of their seats at the movies this Christmas, but not for the usual reasons.

A scorching summer in the US has seen corn and soybean crops devastated, with prices rising dramatically. This has led to a prediction of popcorn shortages worldwide as that grain variety has also suffered in the heat. 

And while there's no popcorn scarcity immediately looming in the Waikato, this may not last. Reuel Newman, sales and marketing manager for Te Awamutu's Davies Foods, said the company makes popcorn from locally grown crops but imports the ACT II brand packaged from the US.

 "We read the wires as well and we suspect it may hit us in time," he said. "But our suppliers try to keep some stocks in hand to get through the tough times. It all depends on whether the market can make it through to when the next set of crops come around."

Raglan popcorn maker Bill Neal from Sweet As Popcorn said he will have no problems, as all his stock is made from locally grown crops.

At the other end of the process, Event Cinema's New Zealand GM Carmen Switzer said the chain can't import popcorn due to MAF restrictions. "All of it must be locally grown so we're totally unaffected by the USA situation."

At Hamilton's boutique Lido cinema, Manager Stewart Putwain says all their product comes from Davies Foods and Sweet as Popcorn, with no indication of problems yet.