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The Climate Crisis is Threatening the Production of Sriracha, Coffee and Wine

Food shortages are on the rise.

Credit: Shutterstock/Simone Hogan (left) and Grossinger (right)

Across the world, companies are warning about upcoming shortages and increasing prices, from coffee to wine, to beloved Sriracha.

After months of severe drought and weather in Mexico, Sriracha producer Huy Fong Foods has reported a low inventory of their famous Sriracha’s core ingredient: red jalapeño chili peppers. While Huy Fong Foods issued a similar chili pepper shortage warning in July of 2020, the shortage has only worsened in severity.

In a notice sent to Huy Fong Foods, Inc. clients, the company announced: “Currently, due to weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers, we now face a more severe shortage of chili.”

Credit: Shutterstock/calimedia

The company continued: “Unfortunately, this is out of our control and without this essential ingredient we are unable to produce any of our products (Chili Garlic, Sambal Oelek, and Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce).”

In response to this extreme shortage, Huy Fong Foods announced that they will be rescheduling all orders placed on or after April 19, 2022. All orders, they clarified, will be completed after September 6, 2022, or Labor Day. In short, with few exceptions, eaters across the country and the world may be facing a Sriracha-less summer.

Southern California’s Huy Fong Foods is not the only food producer facing extreme shortages. A litany of climate catastrophes including sweltering heat waves, intense droughts, vicious storms, and more are threatening food production globally, including widely-loved coffee, wheat, wine, mustard, and fruit products.

Credit: Shutterstock/kv naushad

In mid-May, India announced a wheat export ban to protect their limited supply. Abandonment rates for winter wheat in the United States’ Oklahoma and Texas are record high following a drought, while flooding is jeopardizing the grain of Montana. A NASA study conducted in November 2021 predicts a 24% decline in maize corn yields by 2030.

It doesn’t stop at grain and condiments. Last winter’s heavy frost drastically reduced Michigan and Wisconsin’s apple harvest. Apricot yield in France is the lowest in 40 years, with only about half the average fruit yield.

In 2021 and 2022, France announced a record low wine yield, with a 24-30% decline in wine production. The catastrophic year is attributed to late-season frosts and summer mildew throughout the wine-growing regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone Valley, and Champagne.

French Agriculture Minister Juliene Denormandie called the freezing spring “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe since the beginning of the 21st century.” With approximately 80% of vineyards affected, the country estimated a $2 billion reduction in wine-related sales.

Credit: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

Coffee prices have increased 50-70% from 2020 due to supply shortages caused by combined drought and freezing conditions in Brazil. While cocoa and cacao crops are remaining stable thus far, many experts anticipate drought conditions will soon hit west Africa, causing shortages of chocolate products in coming years.

Many leading scientists on food and climate estimate yields will only decrease, sending prices skyrocketing and global hunger rates through the roof. Since 2016, the amount of people living in famine conditions has risen by 500%. In the past two years, the amount of people living in severe food insecurity has reached 276 million people (doubling the pre-pandemic count of 135 million people).

In a statement from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, he warned, “The climate emergency is another driver of global hunger. Over the past decade, 1.7 billion people have been affected by extreme weather and climate-related disasters.”

John Furlow, director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) at Columbia Climate School, remarked, “We’re suffering in the US because we can’t get sriracha. The farmers who produce those peppers are not getting that income – that’s a little bit worse than having a bland sandwich.”

Interested in reading more about the latest in environmental and social developments? Click here to read about the FDA’s attempt to ban all Juul products.

Written By

Makenna Dykstra (she/her) is currently pursuing her M.A. in English Literature at Tulane University in New Orleans. She writes journalism and poetry.

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