Hot Sauce in Hot Water

Hot Sauce in Hot Water

Thanks to climate change, a fan favourite hot sauce will – like fjords melting under our increasingly temperate atmosphere – disappear from our dinner tables this summer. Huy Fong Foods Inc., purveyors of the classic, green-capped, garlicky bottles of Sriracha hot sauce (as well as a fiery sambal oelek and pungent chili garlic sauce) have publicly broken the news that a pepper shortage will soon affect their output. Wholesale orders for all three popular sauces, which use the same, now-scarce, red jalapeño peppers, made after April 19th this year will be completed and shipped at the beginning of September. Huy Fong dropped the dire news in an email last week.

“The company described the pepper shortage as ‘severe’ and related to the climate. The company sources its peppers from various farms in California, New Mexico and Mexico, and said that weather conditions were affecting the quality of the peppers and deepening the chili pepper shortage. […]

‘Unfortunately, this is out of our control and without this essential ingredient we are unable to produce any of our products,’ the company said. […]

Hot temperatures and a historic drought across the US west have been taking a heavy toll on California’s agriculture. The US Drought Monitor reported that the whole state was in ‘severe drought’ as of last week, with the Central Valley facing ‘extreme drought’ conditions.”

The Sriracha folks are no strangers to production hiccups; in 2013, a lawsuit brought by neighbours claiming that the aerosolized capsaicin emitted by the factory was a public nuisance caused production to grind to a halt, until the suit was dropped the next year. Non-committal language in their announcement aside, I’m betting the famously word-of-mouth-only, cult condiment will bounce back because that’s what the system does in the short term. The greater, long-term question is, will our planet bounce back?