Spain Is Heading Towards An Ice Crisis. Here's Why

Of all the useful ingredients you keep on hand, do you ever stop and consider ice? While we might often take them for granted, these frozen cubes of goodness take on a myriad of roles in the kitchen, most obviously chilling our favorite cocktails and cold brew coffees, but also in the form of ice baths that handily cool down hard boiled eggs and keep shaved vegetables nice and crisp. But those everyday uses for ice might soon become luxuries in Spain, which is quickly heading towards an ice crisis.

As explained by Reuters, the Mediterranean country is facing a serious shortage of the frozen stuff due to a combination of sky-high energy bills, coupled with a lower-than usual supply prompted by uncertainties about the course of the pandemic. And would-be sippers of cool drinks in the country — which is currently experiencing a series of sweltering heat waves — are finding supermarket freezer shelves empty of a product that's now surging in demand.

Some supermarkets are placing limits on how much ice shoppers can buy

If you're passing through Spain this summer, you might have to drink your sangria at room temperature. According to Reuters, the country is facing an ice shortage, owing to the fact that earlier this summer, ice producers unsure of how much demand there would be at bars and restaurants this season held back on producing too much. As the pandemic continues to play out, manufacturers weren't sure how much tourism there would be this summer — and were also trying to save money by lowering production in the face of unprecedented energy bills, which another Reuters article explains is due to a global surge in wholesale power and gas prices.

As it turns out, however, plenty of people have been stepping out, and watering holes and eateries haven't been able to keep up with the demand for ice. Reuters reports that supermarket chains such as Mercadona and Consum have limited sales of bags of ice to five and two per person, respectively. In an intense heat wave that has killed more 2,000 people in Spain and Portugal so far this summer (via Axios), drinkers definitely want ice — proving to be a problem for bar owners such as Madrid's Mercedes Nieto, who has been struggling to find ice to buy for her business in the city's Chueca neighborhood. "If this carries on, we are going to have real problems keeping open a cool drinks store," she told Reuters.