The Wall Street Journal and just about every other news outlet, has reported a version of the article found below. I find it almost humorous that my freezer "overfloweth" when there is apparently a shortage among the great pumpkin giant, lovingly known as Libby's (via Nestle foods). Note that places like Whole Foods, HyVee, Trader Joes, and other smaller brands of regular and organic pumpkin puree are still available. So, take that, great pumpkin growing, conglomerate farming, corporate meanies. Or something else, a little less insensitive...
Here's the story as written in the Wall Street Journal:
By Kelly Evans
It’s every baker’s worst holiday fear: you head to the grocery store (last-minute, despite your best efforts) for ingredients to whip up your famous pumpkin pie — but there is no pumpkin left on the shelves.
That nightmare is now becoming a reality for shoppers across the country — and for companies like Nestle, which owns the Libby’s brand of pumpkin pie and announced this week that heavy rain has hurt its pumpkin farms in Morton, Ill., to the point that it will not pack any more pumpkins this year.
“Our calculations indicate that we may deplete our inventory of canned Libby’s pumpkin as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Paul Bakus, vice president and general manager of Nestle Baking, in a press release.
According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, Nestle controls 85% of the pumpkin crop for canning. Grocery stores believe they will have enough pumpkin on their shelves through Thanksgiving, but caution supplies could run out before the rest of the holiday season — particularly if shoppers begin hoarding the canned fruit.
The New York Times notes it could be a boon for the organic pumpkin industry, which makes up only 3-4% of the total market but had a good crop this year in places like Oregon and could help fill the gap. (Some of their commenters, by the way, suspect the whole shortage is a marketing ploy.)
“We had the wettest October in history and that made for a bad harvest season,” John Hawkins, spokesman for the Illinois Farm Bureau, told Newsday.
According to the Census Bureau, Illinois led the country in pumpkin production last year, producing 496 million pounds of the orange gourd, followed by California, Pennsylvania and New York. The value of all pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states in 2008 was $141 million, Census reports.
There are a couple alternatives for those who can’t get their hands on pumpkin this year: they can make their own, get their pumpkin fix in beer form, or try their hand at sweet potato or pecan pie instead. As the Consumerist blog notes “If you can’t get any canned pumpkin, you can also go to your farmer’s market and buy some butternut squash. Roast it in the oven and use just like the good ol’ canned stuff.”
According to the Labor Department, the cost of other ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner — such as turkey — are lower this year than last, which perhaps leaves some room in the budget for experimentation.
On another note, the pumpkin I once couldn't GIVE away... is now in high demand. How much SHOULD I charge per cup? ;)