People Have Resorted To Theft Amid A Sriracha Shortage And Price Hikes

"You wouldn't steal a car," the iconic early-2000s anti-piracy ad campaign famously proclaimed. But, would you steal ... a bottle of sriracha? (It's certainly a lot easier to fit in your handbag.)

The now-infamous sriracha shortage that's been plaguing foodies and professional chefs alike first hit in April 2022, when California-based Huy Fong Foods Inc. announced that its red jalapeno pepper crop was drastically damaged by poor climate conditions. An intense drought hit Mexico and the harvest yield was, to say the least, not promising. The beloved sauce manufacturer told fans to anticipate a pretty significant shortage, but in hindsight, few could have likely predicted the crisis that would extend over a year later into June 2023, still with no end in sight. Production briefly resumed in the fall but was quickly halted again due to a dwindling supply of raw materials.

Now, some California foodies have resorted to theft to get their sriracha as the sauce remains in obscurity, and they aren't even stealing from supermarkets — they're swiping bottles from a local restaurant. The victim is Senor Sisig, a California-based Filipino fusion chain, reports local news outlet SF Gate. Senor Sisig's Ferry Building and Valencia Street locations are seeing bottles go missing left and right, operations manager Mariel Edwards tells the outlet. Only the Oakland location has yet to be burglarized, but time will tell whether it stays that way. Some customers have even contacted the store and asked to purchase its inventory bottles of Sriracha.

Foodies getting resourceful as shortage stretches on

More and more consumers have resorted to grocery theft for food items across the board as the inflation crisis continues to rock households' bottom lines. But this hasn't even been the only extreme response to the Sriracha shortage. According to California-based news outlet KTLA, last summer, Vietnamese restaurant Bé Ù in East Hollywood reached out to customers with a trade deal: Free food for a bottle of sriracha. Now, 28-ounce bottles are selling for $29.99 each at Koreana Plaza, a retailer in Oakland.

The grocery display also featured a sign informing customers of a two-bottle per person limit. (The same bottle reportedly used to retail for just $3.99. That's a 750% markup.) Bottles are currently reselling on eBay in the ballpark of $20-$40, drawing multiple bids as desperate foodies are tasked with deciding how much they're willing to fork over for a now-rare taste of their favorite condiment.

On the morally-righteous side of the debacle, there are some non-theft ways to cope with the shortage (but admittedly, none of them are exactly ideal). Foodies could whip up a DIY recipe with red jalapeno peppers, garlic, brown sugar, salt, and white vinegar. It's wicked affordable, but it'll need to ferment for about a week before you can use it. Badia makes a similar sriracha hot sauce, an alright alternative for the Huy Fong fave. Badia's offering even mimics Huy Fong's plastic squeeze bottle and green cap design.