hunky chips are off the menu at bars, restaurants and traditional fish and chip shops after the hot summer caused a small potato crop.
The vegetables are much smaller than usual this year due to a lack of rain, meaning chips are smaller, prices are going up and in some cases sweet potatoes are being used instead.
Larger types of potato barely grew at all over the summer, with the popular Maris Piper variety particularly badly affected.
The chips are down at Fish! in Borough Market, which has a fish and chip stand favoured by tourists visiting The Shard and the famous market.
Nick Melmoth-Coombes, the executive chef at the restaurant told The Telegraph: “The potatoes are coming out smaller because of the drought in July and August. We buy our potatoes off a company that just finished harvesting this week but they think it’s 15 to 20 per cent down this year.
“The width is still there but the length isn’t what it was last year – I’d say the chips are around 10 per cent shorter.
“This is because the whole potato is smaller, so there’s less to cut from.”
The manager at Golden Union fish and chip shop in Kings Cross said they had similar issues, commenting: “It has been quite difficult to source big enough potatoes for our chips, yes, it’s been a really hard year.”
Fast food chain Leon has stopped using normal potatoes for its baked chips, instead using sweet potato – which has caused outcry from many customers.
A spokesperson said: “We’ve had a bad crop this year, our potatoes aren’t big enough for our hashtag fries.
“Too small potatoes, same problem has happened with the pumpkins this year…that glorious summer had to have a bit of a downside.”
The restaurant promised angry customers that it would try to bring back the regular fries in the next few weeks.
The problem is widespread – vegetable trader Vernon Mascarenhas from Nature’s Choice at New Covent Garden Market supplies many of London’s leading restaurants and hotels, including The Ledbury and Le Gavroche.
He told The Telegraph: “In the last few months, [sweet potato chips are] appearing on a lot more menus.
“Restaurants are finding it very difficult to source potatoes – they’re a lot more expensive and hard to get hold of.
“The old fashioned baking potato needed for chunky chips is normally non existent this year, so out of this you only get six chunky chips even with a good crop.
“Chunky chips are therefore on fewer menus.”
He claimed that wholesalers have hiked prices by up to 20 per cent in response to the shortage, adding: “It already is more expensive.
“McCain put the price of their fries up by 20 per cent this October for example.
“The price will go directly onto consumers – the prices of chips on menus will be higher since the beginning of October.
“Your local chip shop will be affected by this as they print their menus in house, larger chains won’t be affected as they do a yearly contract and are a bigger company so can absorb the cost.”
McCain responded: “This year’s exceptional weather has affected agricultural crops across the UK and Europe, impacting all food producers, and we’ve been in ongoing discussions with our wholesale customers on its impact.”
Rob Clayton, strategy director for AHDB potatoes confirmed the crop has been affected by the extreme weather, telling The Telegraph: “Consumers will see smaller potatoes, anyone looking for the big bakers will find they’re a little bit smaller.
“You’re going to see duller and scabbier potatoes, price-wise, it might be a few pence per kilo increase. The main impact you’ve got is the size, you aren’t going to have super long chips and big bakers.”
Liam Simpson-Trotman, chef-owner at Orwells restaurant in Henley-on-Thames said that chefs should not stop frying up potatoes just because of the small crop.
He said: “When it comes to potatoes, a lot of restaurants will either stop producing chips or change to something like the sweet potatoes.
“We all suffered this year with the sun but imagine if we all said no to the potato farmer because his spuds are too small, who will be suffering then…?”