What’s behind the Sriracha shortage?

Popular sriracha maker Huy Fong Inc. warned that retailers and customers can expect a shortage of the famous spicy condiment in the coming months, as there is a “severe shortage” of the chilies used to make its sauces.

Huy Fong Foods is the company behind several popular variations of sriracha and chili sauces, including the sriracha, chili garlic and sambal oelek spicy condiment lines.

The company, founded in 1980, is based in Irwindale, Calif. It owns a 650,000-square-foot factory that produces and bottles sriracha 24 hours a day, six days a week, according to popular food website Mashed. It also sees a daily delivery of 21 tons of red jalapeños that are used to make its sauce, Mashed reported in its company profile.

However, the company has now been forced to halt production.

What have they said about the shortage?

In a letter to investors dated April 19, Huy Fong Inc. said it advises that retailers not promise any products to customers unless they have the product in stock.

The company added that “due to weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers,” there is a shortage, and that without this “essential ingredient,” it cannot produce any of its products.

“Unfortunately, we can confirm that there is an unprecedented shortage of our products,” the company wrote in an emailed statement shared with Nexstar last week. “We are still endeavoring to resolve this issue that has been caused by several spiraling events, including unexpected crop failure from the spring chili harvest.”

“We hope for a fruitful fall season and thank our customers for their patience and continued support during this difficult time.”

Why is there chili pepper crop failure?

Huy Fong Inc. blamed “weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers.” The company is supplied by chili pepper farms in California, New Mexico and Mexico, where there is a drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that drought conditions since March are most severe in the U.S. states of Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Montana and New Mexico.

The majority of the U.S. commercial jalapeño supply is grown in New Mexico, Texas and California, according to Food Source Information.

According to a study that explored the effect of drought on the chili pepper crops, various factors, including drought, can limit pepper production. Flowering is one of the most sensitive stages during crop productions, and the authors found that it is affected by drought stress. 

It also concluded that drought stress decreased reproductive growth parameters and pungency of pepper fruit, and that the most important factor in the production of chili peppers is the availability of water at the flowering and pod formation stage, which are critical time periods to ensure good yield and pepper quality.

This drought has resulted in the severe shortage of chilies and is what Huy Fong Inc. pointed at in its statement as the “severe weather conditions” affecting the quality of the peppers.

When will the shortage end?

The shortage of the popular hot sauce is expected to extend through the summer into fall.

The company told its investors that all orders submitted on or after April 19, 2022, will be scheduled
after Labor Day on Sept. 6, 2022, and will be fulfilled in the order they were received.

“Additionally, if you had provided us with a purchase order and have not received confirmation, it will be on hold until September 2022,” it said.

Tags drought farming Sriracha hot sace shortage Sriracha shortage sriracha shortage 2022
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