It’s been a rough month of ups and downs for anyone who enjoys either pizza-flavored potato chips or exploiting markets.
About a month ago tragic news hit the junk food community that the beloved line of potato chips Pizza Potato were going to be suspended. The cause was a shortage of potatoes from Hokkaido due to inclement weather the year before.
The brand’s distributor Calbee set the deadline for 22 April on which day no more Pizza Potatoes would be sent out. This of course triggered a buying spree of the chips both by fans and those who saw an opportunity to make some money by reselling them at an inflated price online.
So great was the rush that on 12 April, ten days before the deadline, Calbee announced the end of Pizza Potato production effective immediately. This only accelerated the demand, and before anyone knew it, the chips were gone.
Gone from stores at least. Logging on to Yahoo! Auctions revealed that the Pizza Potato trade was still alive and well. However, anyone wanting that zesty cheese flavor and thick ridged cut crunch would have to pay a premium, with someone even attempting to sell a single bag for 9,999,999,999 yen (US$88 million).
For about a month, things were looking pretty bleak for anyone wanting some Pizza Potato action. However, on 12 May Calbee announced that the stock of potatoes would be replenished in about one or two months. This meant that we could see Pizza Potato back on store shelves by around September.
While great news for junk food enthusiasts, this did not bode well for chip resellers. A few months was not an outrageous time to wait for something, and although the chips are popular, probably very few people are jonesing for them bad enough to pay an unreasonable sum of money. We weathered the big Butter Crisis of ’14, so a few months without Pizza Potato should be a cake walk.
▼ Who needs it anyway? I hereby declare this the summer of cool ranch corn!
Looking at Yahoo! Auctions now, you can still find some bags of Pizza Potato selling for tens of thousands of yen (hundreds of dollars), but cracks are beginning to appear in this sellers’ market. For example, one posting appears to be selling 39 cardboard boxes filled with 468 bags of potato chips all at once.
As of this writing the current bidding is at 80,000 yen ($700) but they can be bought outright for 160,000 yen ($1,400). Assuming no one is crazy enough to pay the sale price, even a winning bid of 80,000 yen would work out to about 171 yen ($1.50) per bag which is only a little more than retail.
At that price the reseller would still turn a decent profit, but such a drastic reduction in price is telling that desperation will soon set in on this community. In the coming days and weeks we can expect to see more resellers trying to offload larger quantities of Pizza Potato before they return to stores.
And then – hehehe – then my friends the tables will turn. After these cheesy chips are back on the market we can expect to see the remaining resellers attempt to cut losses by selling at below market price, at which time true Pizza Potato fans can exact their savory revenge!