A Shortage of Potato Chips Hits the Big Apple

If you live in the Big Apple, chances are you’ve noticed a shortage of potato chips. Not all potato chips, mind you: just the ones sold by Frito-Lay.

Frito-Lay is one of the most ubiquitous snack food companies in North America. Their products include Lays, Ruffles, Fritos, Rold Gold, Cheetos and Doritos – quite the snacking tour de force.

However, a change in the way the company pays their workers has led to a dramatic shortage of delivery drivers in the Empire State. In the past, drivers working for Frito-Lay were paid on commission, but the pay model has switched nationwide to a salary-based system. For drivers in densely urbanized New York City, this equaled a pay cut of tens of thousands of dollars.

As a result, dozens of local drivers have left the company, leaving Frit- Lay desperately short-handed in a metropolitan area of over 8.5 million people. While Wal-Mart and other large supermarkets are able to maintain their supplies, this driver shortage has had a dramatic effect on convenience stores, delis and other, smaller businesses.

Some local bodegas have simply been unable to stock their merchandise. This hits small businesses hard, as snack food is a major source of income. This means there’s less money coming in, which means business owners are struggling.

Sandwich shops are also affected. Chips are a popular companion to hoagies and sub sandwiches, but with no chips available, owners are getting fed up. One local business owner says he’s “done” with Frito-Lay, but it is uncertain what his other options are. When it comes to individually-portioned bags of potato chips, Frito-Lay nearly has the market cornered. While there are other alternatives, none have the name-brand recognition or the variety of options that Frito-Lay provides.

The chip shortage has been going on for months in the Big Apple, and it may continue for some time. Frito-Lay is actively recruiting new drivers, but in the meantime, local business owners are paying the price.