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Sriracha shortage linked to weather conditions and drought

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    Nearly two months after informing customers of a months-long shortage in its products, Huy Fong Foods has shed light on the weather issues causing the problem.

    In an April 19 email, the California-based company announced that they are facing “a more severe shortage of chili” compared to a similar situation in July 2020. As a result, all orders placed on or after April 19 will be scheduled after Labor Day (Sept. 6) in the order they were received.

    Huy Fong Foods, which uses chili to create three different kinds of sauces — sriracha, chili garlic and sambal oelek — blamed the scarcity on “weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers.” At the time, the company provided no further explanation, saying the matter is unfortunately “out of our control.”

    The sauce maker sources its chili peppers from various farms in California, New Mexico and Mexico. As it turns out, all three areas are currently struggling with rising temperatures and a record drought that has persisted for two years.

    While the worst of the drought has reportedly improved in the past year, much of the Southwest remains under abnormally dry conditions. Unfortunately, these are expected to barely change or even worsen over the next few weeks, according to AccuWeather.

    “According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, the worst of the drought was found across the Central Valley of California and in central and eastern New Mexico, where the drought is classified as ‘exceptional,’” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger said. “Outside of those areas, most of the rest of California and New Mexico is in severe drought.”

    The drought in Mexico is reportedly less alarming. But while most of the country is experiencing “moderate” levels of drought, some northern areas happen to be in “severe,” “extreme” and “exceptional” conditions, as per the National Drought Mitigation Center of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Most recently, Huy Fong Foods has only been sourcing chilis from Mexico. Executive Operations Officer Donna Lam said the company has multiple suppliers in different regions, but she declined to specify where.

    “It’s a crop thing and something that we can’t predict,” Lam told Los Angeles Times of the shortage. “It’s been happening since last year and this year is a lot worse, and that’s what put us back.”

    Due to the summer shortage, restaurants using sriracha — arguably Huy Fong Foods’ most popular product — have moved to limit offering the sauce. Some shoppers have also reported difficulty finding sriracha in their local stores.

    Huy Fong Foods confirmed the shortage after reports of its April 19 email broke. They said they are still trying to resolve the problem.

    “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,” the company said in a statement. “We hope for a fruitful fall season and thank our customers for their patience and continued support during this difficult time.”

     

    Featured Image via Great Big Story

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