Sriracha is a Thai hot sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, along with vinegar, garlic, and other ingredients. The core of the sauce is the chili peppers — you can’t make sriracha without them. But due to a severe drought, we may have a hot-and-spicy-less summer.
No more hot stuff
If you like spicy foods, the odds are you’ve tried Sriracha, or even have a bottle of two in your fridge. If you like the sauce but you don’t have any more left, you may want to stock up as soon as possible. Huy Fong Foods, the largest producer of Sriracha on the planet, sent out a note to its customers warning that the entire summer will be hit by a massive shortage (the note was sent out in April but flew under the radar until recently).
“Currently, due to weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers, we now face a more severe shortage of chili. Unfortunately, this is out of our control and without this essential ingredient we are unable to produce any of our products,” the company wrote. All orders submitted after April 19 will only be fulfilled in September because of this shortage.
Huy Fong Foods attributed the chili pepper shortage to weather conditions. Specifically, the company gets its chili peppers from Mexico, which is currently undergoing a severe drought. Over half of the country is experiencing water shortages, leading to some severe measures like daily water limits.
This drought was predictable in the spring, but now that it’s hitting Mexico in full force, a chili crop failure seems unavoidable.
Shortages and climate
Of course, it’s difficult to draw a direct connection between climate change and a single event. It’s hard to say that climate change is causing the sriracha shortage, but climate change is making droughts far more likely and severe. This is exactly the type of event that you’d expect climate change to exacerbate, and as the heating continues to take its toll, we can expect more failed crops and shortages. While Huy Fong Foods has made it clear that they expect very little production (if any) this summer, other producers are also likely to be affected.
Meanwhile, it’s not just chilli that’s experiencing shortages. Experts are warning about a potential worldwide health crisis in the form of food shortages, as cascading effects from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are triggering a series of shortages for basic foods and will spare no nations.
Andrei's background is in geophysics, and he's been fascinated by it ever since he was a child. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science -- and the results are what you see today.