Fans may turn red in the face when they see the steep prices for bottles of Sriracha hot sauce.
Amid ongoing shortages, sellers on e-commerce sites have started selling bottles of the Huy Fong sauce for jacked up prices. While Huy Fong is not the only maker of this style of sauce, it is the most popular. Huy Fong Sriracha is the top hot sauce in 31 states based on Instacart purchase data.
On Amazon, a pack of two, 17-oz Huy Fong Sriracha bottles is retailing for $114. 59. A four-pack of 28-oz bottles is selling for $200. Huy Fong’s chili garlic sauce is also selling for inflated prices; a three-pack of 8-oz bottles is being sold for $129.97. A bottle at a store normally retails for about $4, depending on the size.
Over on eBay, a search shows prices for various sized bottles ranging from $39.98 for 17-ounce bottles to a 28-ounce bottle for nearly $70. It remains unclear if anyone is actually purchasing these pricey bottles of the condiment.
“Putting Sriracha on the list of things I won’t get to enjoy for at least a couple years because of climate change,” one user on Twitter said Thursday.
Others said their meals haven’t been as good since the shortage began.
“Ever since the Sriracha shortage, my food hasn’t been hitting the same,” someone tweeted.
There may be some hope for customers looking to purchase more reasonably priced bottles of hot sauce. A Huy Fong spokesperson on Thursday told CBS News that limited production had recently resumed. The spokesperson did not specify how limited the production was or when it had resumed but said the company was still dealing with limited supply.
“Unfortunately, we are still experiencing a shortage of raw material,” the spokesperson said. “At this time, we have no estimations of when supply will increase.”
The condiment maker has dealt with a shortage of chili pepper inventory for years. The company sent out letters to customers in July of 2020 and again in April of last year warning of shortages.
“Currently, due to weather conditions affecting the quality of chili peppers, we now face a more severe shortage of chili,” Huy Fong wrote in a letter last year. “Unfortunately, this is out of our control and without this essential ingredient we are unable to produce any of our products.”
While it’s not clear where Huy Fong gets its peppers from, production of chiles has been down in a number of locations because of drought. In New Mexico, chile production for 2021 saw a 22% decrease from 2020, according to the USDA’s Mountain Regional Field Office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. Of the 51,000 tons produced in 2021, 46,500 tons were green and 4,500 tons were red. Production increased slightly in 2022 to 53,000 tons, but that still falls well short of the 65,000 tons produced in 2020.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2021 warned a rapid depletion of water reserves in Mexico, particularly in Northern Mexico, could lead to possible water shortages that would impact the country’s agricultural production.
The most recent USDA weather and crop bulletin state that in Mexico, “unseasonably hot, dry weather stressed summer crops nearly nationwide.”
Griffin Hammond, director of the 2013 documentary “Sriracha,” told CBS News on Thursday, that years of drought conditions have caused rolling issues for Huy Fong.
“They started the year in a bad place,” Hammond said about the company. “So it makes sense that halfway through this year we’re already out. And if they’re out of peppers, they can’t make any more bottles.”
Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha features a red pepper base flavored with salt, sugar, garlic and vinegar. The condiment hit the market in 1980 and has become a cult favorite.
In 2015, Sriracha production was threatened when the Irwindale City Council declared the factory a public nuisance, but the factory ultimately stayed up and running.