Kūmara boomerang: Proper Crisps switches back from Aussie sweet potato

Kūmara boomerang: Proper Crisps switches back from Aussie sweet potato

Nelson company Proper Crisps is making good on its promise to bring back kūmara crisps after Cyclone Gabrielle tore through the country last year and left the crop hanging by a thread.

Proper Crisps was forced to “temporarily switcheroo” its kūmara to Australian-grown sweet potato in October to keep customers happy and shelves stocked on both sides of the Tasman.

Gabrielle was the final blow in a weather trifecta which started with torrential rain and then saw the Auckland Anniversary Day floods. Ant Blundell, of Kaipara Kūmara, Proper Crisps supplier for a decade, describes it as a perfect storm, which saw the region’s biggest grower lose 99% of crops.

“In our 50 years of harvesting kūmara, last year’s weather was by far the biggest challenge we’ve faced,” says Blundell.

But while the devastating impact of the cyclone resulted in an industry downturn of 70%, New Zealand’s local growers’ resilience has led to a thriving 2024 harvest.

And now Proper Crisps, which was founded in 2007 and still operates from its home in Nelson is back to resume its long-term supply agreement with the local kūmara grower.

“I’ll never forget the phone call I had with their team after the cyclone. After telling them almost all of our crop had been wiped out, they assured us they’d stick it out with us and sent us a pallet of chips to let us know they were thinking of us.”

The award-winning snack manufacturer shifted to an Australian supplier and released Proper Crisps Sweet Potato packets to keep shelves warm while the kūmara crop recuperated. After a limited season of the Aussie variant, Proper Crisps has now placed an order for 700 tonnes of NZ-grown kūmara to make into Lightly Salted Hand Cooked Kūmara Crisps for this side of the ditch.

“The 2024 harvest is looking good with nice quality kūmara,” says Blundell.

“What we can say about Proper Crisps is they exemplify what a great customer and business partner should look like. Integrity, professional, transparent, honest, engaging and very personable. They have it all.”

And as with all Proper Crisps products, the comeback kid kūmara crisps are crafted with the finest natural ingredients – locally grown kūmara, high oleic sunflower oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

“The Aussies will get to keep their sweet potato, while our kūmara rightfully feeds Kiwi chippie lovers. I might be biased, but I’d say our version tastes a touch better,” jokes Blundell.

Each batch is hand-cooked and overseen by Proper Chefs, ensuring perfect crispness every time. The crisps are lightly sprinkled with Marlborough sea salt and there are “no nasties” under its ingredients list.

Proper Lightly Salted Hand Cooked Kūmara Crisps 100g are now available at supermarkets for RRP $5.59.

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