Sriracha Shortage: It’s not just you—Sriracha is becoming increasingly difficult to find. The acute shortage of Sriracha can be found especially in the popular brand produced by Huy Fong Foods. The lack of Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha, the beloved red hot sauce packaged in those iconic green-capped bottles, has been an ongoing issue for several years now. The company attributes this scarcity to a limited supply of chile peppers. As a result, frustrated fans are encountering empty store shelves, while third-party resellers are taking advantage by significantly increasing prices.
The Rising Prices and Limited Availability
Huy Fong Sriracha, which used to be priced under $5 or $10 per bottle, is now being listed at shocking amounts on third-party marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart. In some cases, prices range from around $20 to an astonishing $150 for a single 17-ounce bottle. This stark contrast in pricing compared to other hot sauce brands indicates that Huy Fong Foods is facing unique supply troubles.
According to Huy Fong, the company is currently experiencing shortages of raw materials, specifically chile peppers. This scarcity has led to a halt in Sriracha sales in the past. Similar issues affect other popular products such as Chili Garlic and Sambal Oelek. While “limited production” has recently resumed, Huy Fong Foods has not disclosed the exact increase in production or provided an estimated timeline for when an adequate supply of peppers will be available.
The Reasons Behind the Huy Fong Sriracha Shortage
Climate change is considered one of the main factors contributing to the shortage of Huy Fong Sriracha. The company sources all its chile peppers from farms in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest, regions that have been affected by weather shifts and severe droughts. According to David Ortega, a food economist and associate professor at Michigan State University, the scarcity of red jalapeño chile peppers, the main ingredient in Huy Fong Sriracha, is directly linked to climate change and the ongoing mega-drought.
The cultivation of these peppers heavily relies on irrigation, with a significant amount of water sourced from the Colorado River. Unfortunately, the region has experienced inadequate rainfall and reduced snowpack run-off, leading to water scarcity. These adverse weather conditions have exacerbated the shortage of chile peppers. It is affecting Huy Fong’s ability to meet the demand for its famous Sriracha sauce.
While climate change plays a significant role, it is not the sole cause of the current shortage. Stephanie Walker, an extension vegetable specialist and professor at New Mexico State University, suggests that Huy Fong Foods may face difficulties in diversifying its supplier base and building relationships with new growers. In contrast, other hot sauce brands have been able to maintain a steady supply. They have done so by collaborating with multiple farmers and establishing strong partnerships.
Huy Fong’s Chile Pepper Sourcing
Huy Fong Foods currently sources its chile peppers from farms located in California, New Mexico, and Mexico. Previously, the company relied solely on Underwood Ranches, a California-based supplier, for nearly three decades. However, their partnership dissolved in 2017 due to a financial dispute. Subsequently, a jury ruled that Huy Fong had breached its contract with Underwood Ranches and committed fraud, resulting in a $23.3 million award against Huy Fong.
Craig Underwood, the owner of Underwood Ranches, disagrees with the explanation that the shortage is solely due to drought and climate change. He believes that Huy Fong Foods has not effectively rebuilt its supply chain. According to Underwood, there has been a consistent supply of jalapeño peppers from Mexico. He also admitted that his own company has increased production of red jalapeños to meet the rising demand caused by the shortage of Huy Fong Sriracha.
The Impact on Prices
The limited availability of Huy Fong Sriracha has led to a significant increase in prices. With the product flying off the shelves, resellers have taken advantage of the high demand. They are listing the scarce Sriracha bottles at inflated prices. Additionally, consumer behavior, such as panic-buying, has contributed to scarcity and further driven up prices. The fear of losing access to the desired product prompts consumers to stockpile more than they usually would, similar to the surge in demand for toilet paper during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Are Other Hot Sauces Affected?
While Huy Fong Sriracha is facing a shortage, other hot sauce brands, including Sriracha-style products, remain readily available at reasonable prices. For example, Tabasco has been able to scale up production to meet the increased demand for its Sriracha sauce. The availability of alternative brands can be attributed to various factors. It is possible that Huy Fong Foods has encountered issues with its current chile suppliers. In contrast, other brands have diversified their pepper variants and sourced from a wider range of farms. Developing new pepper variants or growing crops in areas less affected by extreme weather would require substantial time and effort.
In conclusion, the scarcity of Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha sauce is a result of multiple factors, including climate change, water scarcity, and the company’s supply chain challenges. The shortage has led to rising prices and limited availability, frustrating fans of this iconic hot sauce. While the situation may gradually improve with time, it is clear that Huy Fong Foods faces unique obstacles in meeting the demand for its beloved Sriracha sauce.