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What is happening with sriracha peppers? This is only the beginning…

August 20, 2023

Huy Fong’s Sriracha, one of America’s favorite sauces, is currently in a shortage due to multiple failed red jalapeno harvests in Northern Mexico and Southern California. The iconic condiment is produced by California-based Huy Fong Foods, and its main ingredient, the jalapeno pepper, is a labor-intensive crop vulnerable to extreme weather conditions.

News sources, like CBS, are suggesting that, “it may be time to find a hot-sauce alternative”, but we are Sriracha Lovers at Terraforma and would prefer an alternative to the alternative -- creating resilient and sustainable agricultural systems. If we don’t, we will see beloved produce and products threatened by increasing environmental variability and pathogen pressures.

A farmer can hedge themselves against these challenges by improving their soil health, specifically their soil’s biological diversity and soil carbon content. This can be done through regenerative management practices (RMPs) such as no-till, cover crops, composting, and reinstating local microorganisms adapted to their climates with tools like Terraforma’s ‘TerraPod’.

In lieu of accepting a fate of failed harvests, shortages, and hiked prices, we urge farmers to take the proactive approach and build the resiliency of their soil. It also falls on us, the consumer, to support the farmers with future focused practices.

It seems that as soils reduce in biological diversity, our shelves too will reduce in product diversity. While producers suffer poor harvests and new challenges, consumers will inevitably also pay. As of July 2023, a 28oz bottle of sriracha costs $47.5 USD (up from ~$10/bottle) if it can even be found in stock.

Siracha has increased as much as 375% since 2018, but this could easily happen to avocados, pistachios, and other niche crops grown in semi-arid climates subject to extreme environmental variability.

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Normally, dry conditions would be offset by a wet winter which would replenish some water sources, but with El Niño on the horizon it is likely that Mexico will suffer prolonged drought into the foreseeable future. Huy Fong keeps their position stating they are facing “unprecedented inventory shortages” and do not know when it will end. We wish Huy Fong a biodiverse, resilient farming network for the upcoming 2023 harvest so we can all restock our favorite condiment.

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