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Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Champak Mehta (Courtesy Nigel Moffiet)

Fans of the humble potato beware – there's a major shortage in New Zealand and it's big enough that it's forced chip producers to temporarily stop production in the countdown to Christmas. Demand for spuds is up and supply is down thanks to poor growing and harvesting conditions.

Barat Jivan's been growing spuds in Franklin District for 30 years. He's busier than ever, working around the clock to get new season potatoes to market.

"We were out there in the rain trying to get the potatoes out because demand from the market to supply is immense," he says.

There is immense pressure because some potato crops are down by up to 40 percent.

"In my growing experience I haven't seen a situation like we are at the moment."

It's too wet for growing and harvesting in the North Island, while it's too dry and windy in Canterbury.

"The potatoes we were going to harvest from the early season are not available and the new season's not online yet, so there is a gap," Potatoes New Zealand chief executive Champak Mehta. The shortage is bad news for processing companies; it's impacting on household names Bluebird and Eta.

"I do understand they had to close down for a short period of time becasue they couldn't source enough product," says Mr Mehta.

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