The AtlanticThe Atlantic

The Sriracha shortage is a very bad sign

By Katherine J. Wu

15 Aug 2023 · 5 min read

informed Summary

  1. Sriracha hot sauce has been in low supply for months, causing grocery stores to limit purchases and prices to skyrocket online. This is largely due

For more than a year, life for many sriracha lovers has been an excruciating lesson in bland. Shortages of red jalapeños—the key ingredient in the famous hot sauce—have gotten bleak, in particular for the ultra-popular version of the condiment made by Huy Fong Foods. Grocery stores have enforced buying limits on customers. Bottles on eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon are selling for eye-watering prices—as much as $50 or more. A few Americans have grown so desperate for their flavor fix that they’ve started pilfering the sauce from local restaurants.

A big part of the shortage can be blamed on Huy Fong’s fragile supply chain. The red jalapeños that give the sauce its citrusy-sweet heat are finicky about temperatures and are usually laboriously picked by hand. A huge portion of the peppers are also grown in particularly dry parts of northern Mexico, where many fields are irrigated with water from the Colorado River—itself a strained and highly contested resource. But all of that was just a teeing up, experts told me, for a final climatic blow: the punishing drought that has gripped Mexico in recent years, draining reservoirs so low that even water destined for agriculture has largely been cordoned away.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content