COVID-19 News, Retail

In lockdown, chips are down for India’s potato farmers

So, who wants pubs and bars to open? The urban spending class. Who wants street food stalls to start selling snacks again? Urban Indians of all stripes, presumably. But as much as urban Indians are missing their cocktail and snack, it’s India’s farmers who are desperate for watering holes and street food vendors to start business, report Madhvi Sally and Sutanuka Ghosal of the Economic Times.

Reason? Potato and groundnut consumption has crashed because bars, pubs and restaurants are shut — french fries and peanuts, standard munchies with drinks, and ubiquitous street snacks alu tikki and samosas, are not being sold.

Potato prices have plunged up to 12% in the past month. Hotels, restaurants and bars normally buy 70% of french fries sold in the country, but the lockdown has badly hit sales, said Haresh Karamchandani, CEO, HyFun Foods, which makes frozen potato-based snacks including burger patties and wedges. Its customers include Burger King, Amul, Godrej, Mother Dairy, BigBazaar and KFC.

“Institutional sales have nosedived since the lockdown. This has hugely impacted the demand for potatoes. Offtake from the cold storages are down by 50%. Prices too have fallen by nearly 12% since the second week of April,” said Arvind Agarwal, president of Cold Storage Association.

In West Bengal, the second-largest producer, demand fell more than 30%. “Kolkata is famous for its street-side food joints that serve thousands of people who come to Kolkata to work. Those are closed. And there is no demand from hotels and restaurants,” said Patit Paban De, member of West Bengal Cold Storage Association.

Read the full report in the Economic Times here

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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