Elisa Lee loves her sriracha sauce.
As a Korean American, Lee says the spicy chili condiment is a staple in her prepared foods, from serving it with pho noodles or as a dipping sauce for dumplings and eggs. But lately, she hasn’t been able to find the sauce made by Huy Fong Foods. Lee visited two Korean H Mart supermarkets in Pennsylvania and two more in northern New Jersey to no avail. Of course, the sriracha sauce that used to be readily available at her neighborhood Whole Foods or ShopRite in Montclair, New Jersey, are no longer in stock.
When Lee checked the price online on Amazon, she was in for a sticker shock. The 28-ounce bottle of sauce that usually sells for about $6 now sells for $15 and up online.
“I really don’t want to pay markup pricing,” said Lee, 41.
The struggle is real for fans of the iconic sauce with a signature green cap. For the second year in a row, Huy Fong Foods, one of the largest producers of Asian hot sauce, is in hot demand, with customers scrambling to find its sriracha sauce.
Huy Fong Foods announced that less-than-favorable weather conditions had resulted in a dwindling chili pepper supply. The Southern California-based company told customers in an email last year that it would suspend sales of its famous spicy sauce over the summer due to a shortage of chili peppers.
The shortage appears to continue for a second year. The New York Times recently reported that Huy Fong Foods is facing production issues, with no estimations of when supply will increase. Sriracha is Huy Fong Foods’ most popular sauce. On its website, Huy Fong Foods said it is created from sun-ripened chilies pureed into a smooth paste.
For fans like Lee, there’s no substitute. She posted her ordeal on an Asian community Facebook page with suggestions from friends to try other sauces. But it’s just not the same, she said.
Lee’s plight caught the attention of another sriracha fan, who offered to gift her a bottle. She was grateful for the kind gesture and now has a bottle in her pantry for food for her family. “That should last me for a while,” Lee said.