- Frozen potato chips could be in short supply for the next two months as import tariffs soaring 181% threaten to drive European suppliers away from South Africa.
- Local potato growers can source directly from fast food outlets and the fast food industry.
- A 2.5kg bag of frozen crisps, if supplied by producers in Germany, can cost up to R170 at a retailer, an expert has said.
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South Africa could face a shortage of potato chips towards the festive season as new import tariffs of up to 181% threaten supplies from Europe, but you can still find them in fast food outlets and restaurants.
The new tariffs, which came into force in July, could force European producers to abandon South Africa as an export destination and push them to secure alternative markets. This, in turn, will drive up local chip prices and lead to shortages, according to Hume International.
South Africa’s International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) recently imposed heavy import tariffs to protect the local potato industry from dumping from European suppliers. It introduced duties on frozen fries of up to 23% for Belgium, 104% for the Netherlands and 181% for German suppliers.
High import taxes will pose a challenge for South Africa, which does not supply enough raw materials to meet local demand for frozen fries, said Fred Hume, director of import-export business at Hume. International.
But fast food outlets and restaurants can be saved by South African fries producers who are likely to source directly from large fast food chains and quick service restaurants, leaving little stock for exports. if there are any at all, Hume International said.
“These customers rely on imports of frozen french fries to meet their needs for the simple reason that they are unable to secure a consistent supply locally,” Hume said.
He said the taxes come at a time when the local potato harvest has been poor in recent months, which could further hurt local supplies.
“…Ultimately, it’s not about dumping or lower prices – in many cases, these customers will pay more for imported products just to secure their supply of quality fries,” a- he declared.
In 2021, South Africa imported nearly 24,000 tons of frozen crisps, also helping to fill the country’s potato deficit last year.
Hume warned of exponential price increases, saying a 2.5kg bag of frozen crisps from Germany with import duties of 181% could cost between R160 and R170.