Switzerland is running out of potato chips due to Covid and poor summer weather

2021’s mild summer has another victim: the humble potato chip.

Switzerland is running out of potato chips due to Covid and poor summer weather
Chips. Photo by Mustafa Bashari on Unsplash

As if the 2021 winter couldn’t get any worse, it’s now hitting us in the chip pocket. 

Because of 2021’s constant rainfall and general poor weather, Switzerland’s potato harvest is disappointing. 

When combined with a 30 percent increase in demand due to people sitting at home eating chips rather than going to restaurants, a chip shortage looms in Switzerland. 

Chips manufacturers do not have enough potatoes – and will need to import at least 20,000 tonnes from abroad. 

Chip companies say it is at this stage impossible to determine just how serious the shortage will get, with the impact hitting the shelves in December. 

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to beat its butter shortage (again)

“The exact extent of the shortage can only be quantified at the beginning of December, when the harvest is stored,” Anita Binder, press spokesperson for Zweifel told Watson. 

Switzerland’s complex import rules which seek to protect local farmers made the import a little more difficult, with special permission required from the Federal Office for Agriculture. 

“So far this year we have been able to source around 90 percent of potatoes from Switzerland,” said Binder, but the import quota is likely to increase. 

“We imported the remaining quantities from European countries such as Portugal, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. Over the long term, we import a maximum of five percent from abroad. “

Binder said that while they are hoping chip lovers will not be too disappointed this year, it could become a sign of things to come. 

“Climate change can generally endanger the availability of agricultural raw materials” she said. 

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2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

2022 sees record wildfire destruction in Europe: EU

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.