Aussie sweet potato subs in for kumara chips until crops recuperate

Proper Crisps Sweet Potato, RRP$5.00 (3)

While Aussies will be heading to the beach with their thongs, cossies and eskies this summer, and Kiwis with their jandals, togs and chilly bins, there’ll be a new snack item we can all agree on, thanks to a weather catastrophe, a crop crunch and a helping hand from across the Tasman.

After devastating weather crippled Northland’s kumara supply during Cyclone Gabrielle earlier this year, Nelson-based Proper Crisps has had to call on the crop’s Australian cousin, the sweet potato.

From October, kumara will be taking a summer holiday from Proper Crisps’ popular snack offering in what it’s calling a “temporary sweet switcheroo” as it works with its farmers to get crops back to fighting fit and resumes its long-term supply agreement.

Proper Crisps supplier for 9 years, Ant Blundell of Kaipara Kumara in Northland says he’s glad to take the help from his Australian counterparts.

“It’s the right move for Proper Crisps to sub in sweet potato for kumara until we can get back to supplying them properly next season. We’re grateful for the partnership and that they’ve made that commitment to us.

“In our 50 years of harvesting kumara, this year’s weather is by far the biggest challenge we’ve faced. Since the floods, we’ve been left with 1500 tonnes of kumara compared to our usual 8000 tonnes,” says Ant, whose biggest grower lost 99 per cent of his crops to the floods.

Proper Crisps, which was founded in 2007 and still operates from its home in Nelson, opened a second factory in Yarra Valley in Victoria in 2022 to meet growing demand across the Tasman. Ingredients are sourced locally, with crops from New Zealand used to make Proper Crisps here, and crops from
Australia to make crisps there.

“That is until we’re faced with an issue like a kumara shortage,” says Proper Crisps’ Duncan Kerr.

The award-winning snack food manufacturer worked with its local supplier for as long as possible to keep up production for its kumara product, but with supply forecast to run out this month, the company needed a fix.

“We decided to create a new product that the Aussies will love just as much as we love our kumara crisps,” says Duncan.

“We’ll supply both Kiwis and Aussies with our hand-cooked Proper Crisps from our Proper Chef’s in Yarra this season, and then when kumara is back next season, we’ll go back to sourcing our kumara from Kaipara and making our crisps in Nelson.”

The Proper Chefs are confident that Kiwi fans will love the sweet potato snack, despite their patriotic loyalty to kumara. “It’s a neat way for Kiwis to get to know the names of our Yarra Proper chefs too!”
added Kerr.

As with all Proper Crisps products, the new crisps are crafted with the finest natural ingredients – a variety of Australian sweet potatoes, high oleic sunflower oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Each batch is hand-cooked and overseen by Proper Chefs, ensuring the perfect crispness every time.
The packet boasts a 3.5 Health Star rating due to lower salt, fibre, and “no nasties” under its ingredients list. That’s all!

Proper Crisps Sweet Potato is available at Countdown supermarkets for RRP $5.00 from 9 October.

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