Sriracha Lovers May Be Without Their Favorite Condiment Awhile Longer

The chile-based sauce has accrued something of a cult following. It's the subject of multiple cookbooks and even an award-winning documentary. You already know we're talking about sriracha — specifically, the sriracha made by Huy Fong Foods (which you'll recognize by its iconic rooster logo), arguably the most popular hot sauce in the world. For some real fun, do a quick internet search of "sriracha neck tattoo." Truly, foodies love this stuff! 

Huy Fong Foods' Rosemead, California factory cranks out at least 70,000 bottles a day, and its Irwindale factory can fill 18,000 bottles per hour. That's a lot of peppers — roughly 100 million pounds a year — and now, it looks like those peppers are in trouble. Again.

The culprit? Climate change. Sriracha fans won't soon forget when a massive drought swept through Mexico last summer. Huy Fong Foods' world-famous sriracha incurred a mass shortage as the Mexican-grown red chile peppers were wiped out. Now, nearly a year later, as Mexico's drought conditions continue and Huy Fong's raw materials inventory never fully recovered, the effects are rolling over into the 2023 sales year.

Hot sauce giant is feeling the heat

Mexico's 2022 drought emerged as one of the worst climate disasters in modern human history. Livestock perished, an estimated 50% of the country's farmers had to pack up and move, and Mexico declared the crisis a threat to "national security." By August 2022, only 10% of all dams in Mexico were over half full. According to an open letter written by Huy Fong Foods in June 2022, the last pepper shortage was so severe that it stalled production completely for multiple months. During last summer's sriracha shortage, prices jumped by roughly 150% with some retailers placing per-customer limits on sales to prevent stockpiling. Now, distraught fans around the world are taking to social media to ask, "When will the sriracha be coming back?" For now, no one knows. 

A representative from Huy Fong Foods told CBS MoneyWatch, "Because we do not sell directly to retail/market levels, we cannot determine when product will hit shelves again and/or who currently has product in stock." 

Looking forward, Mexico's ongoing drought conditions could evolve into not just an inconvenience, but an industry-wide issue. Huy Fong Foods sells to wholesalers, who then sell to other outlets and retailers for distribution, meaning the shortage affects restaurants and home cooks alike.