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Hot commodity: Why can't I find Sriracha anymore?

The spicy condiment is widely used in Asian restaurants, and is a regular ingredient in spicy mayo.
Credit: AP Photo/Nick Ut, File/AP
FILE - In this Oct 29, 2013 file photo, Sriracha chili sauce bottles are produced at the Huy Fong Foods factory in Irwindale, Calif. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

WASHINGTON — If you're the kind of person who puts Sriracha on just about everything, today is a bad day for you. 

An April 19 letter from Huy Fong Foods, the manufacturer of the crowd-favorite spicy condiment, appears to lay out a dire situation for the sauce, at least in the short term.

The company said in the letter that a "severe shortage of chili" has forced them to halt production of Sriracha completely. 

"Unfortunately, this is out of our control and without this essential ingredient we are unable to produce any of our products," the letter reads.

While the letter is dated from April, it only recently came to light, and was reported Thursday by outlets such as Bloomberg and the Daily Beast. 

The letter is addressed broadly to the company's customers, but appears to focus mainly on stores and restaurants that buy the product in bulk from them for retail sales or use in dishes. 

As for a timeline, it may be months before Sriracha is back on the menu. Huy Fong Foods told customers that any orders placed on or after April 19 wouldn't be scheduled to go out until after Labor Day. For those not keeping track, that's Sept. 6. 

How did this happen? According to the manufacturer, it's a problem they've been worried about for years. In the April letter, they reference a July 24, 2020 email they sent out about a shortage of chili peppers. At the time, they urged their clients to avoid promising customers any Sriracha that wasn't in stock. 

Chili peppers usually require mild weather to grow, with ideal daytime temperatures for the plants somewhere between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Huy Fong Foods said weather conditions in 2022 haven't been hitting that mark, affecting the quality of the chili peppers they can harvest. 

Even if you don't use Sriracha straight from the rooster-branded bottle, it's likely in products you do enjoy. For example, the spicy mayo used in many chicken sandwiches, sushi rolls and other fiery dishes relies on Sriracha. 

At least one establishment, Brady's Sushi and Hibachi in Richland, Kentucky, took to social media about the shortage, telling customers that Sriracha wouldn't be available as a free condiment and that there would be a limit on spicy mayo until the shortage was resolved.

Dear Valued Customers, Our most beloved hot sauce, Sriracha, is facing unprecedented manufacturing and supply chain...

Posted by Brady's Sushi and Hibachi on Monday, May 23, 2022

Brady's Sushi actually got an influx of sriracha after the announcement, courtesy of generous customers who bought some at nearby grocery stores and dropped it off at the restaurant.

We know we are loved when you wait outside our door in the morning to drop off the Sriracha bottles you found on the...

Posted by Brady's Sushi and Hibachi on Tuesday, May 24, 2022

But as the shortage deepens, it's unclear how much Sriracha will remain on shelves, and how many spice lovers will fare without it.

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