Kelly Thao of Oakdale shops for groceries with her son at Ha Tien Super Market in St. Paul on August 9, 2023. Credit: Hibah Ansari | Sahan Journal

Sriracha, fish sauce, soy sauce, and rice. 

Those are the staples of an Asian household, said Kelly Thao, an Oakdale resident and shopper at the Ha Tien Super Market in St. Paul. And until a few months ago, Thao was stocked up.

“I was cooking and realized, ‘Oh, there’s no more Sriracha!’” she said as she shopped through the grocery market aisles. “Then, I came here and there was none.”

Huy Fong Foods, a California-based company that produces the beloved Sriracha sauce, has been facing production issues due to a shortage in chili peppers. Local grocery stores in the Twin Cities have been struggling to stock the Huy Fong Foods-branded bottle, known best for having a rooster on the front. Many stores have been instantly selling out as they restock and have had to point customers to alternative brands instead.

Sun Foods in St. Paul has a limited quantity of Sriracha alternatives in stock. Credit: Hibah Ansari | Sahan Journal

Some alternative Sriracha options are available at Asian grocery stores, always with a different animal or object on the front of the bottle: a buffalo, an eagle, a bunch of chili peppers, three mountains, or a flying goose.

Associated Press reported in July that some experts point to climate change, including drought, as the cause of Huy Fong’s chile pepper shortage. The company uses chile peppers grown in California, New Mexico, and Mexico. Other experts say that Huy Fong doesn’t have enough suppliers and is trying to build relationships with new growers.

Workers at stores like Sun Foods and Shuang Hur in St. Paul say they also sell out the Huy Fong Foods Sriracha instantly. Sun Foods has a limit of one or two bottles, depending on how much they have in stock. Customers often call to inquire about their Sriracha stock.

Shuang Hur carries Sriracha from alternative brands, like Uni-Eagle, which they’re selling for $4.95 a bottle. Credit: Hibah Ansari | Sahan Journal

With grocery store supplies low and demand high, regular folks have resorted to selling Sriracha online at hiked-up prices. 

On Amazon, a 28-ounce bottle currently costs $23.99. Typically, the large bottle goes for under $10 in grocery stores.

Mai Thao, a customer at Shuang Hur in St. Paul said she saw a bottle being sold online for $60. She prefers using an alternative.

Some people prefer one made with Thai chili peppers, she said. She walked to the Sriracha section and pointed out a tall glass bottle with chilis on the front. It looked different from the typical squeeze bottle of Sriracha.

May Yang of Minneapolis shops for groceries at Ha Tien Super Market in St. Paul on August 9, 2023. Credit: Hibah Ansari | Sahan Journal

May Yang, a customer at Hai Tien in St. Paul said she found out about the Sriracha shortage when she saw a photo on social media of a price tag for Sriracha costing $46.99.

“We use it quite often but not in a big amount,” she said, explaining that she stocked up on two bottles in May that have lasted her family since.

Kelly Thao, who said she can’t eat pho without the Huy Fong Foods Sriracha specifically, said she saw someone selling a bottle for $40 online. 

“It’s not worth it,” she said. “A couple of weeks ago, I found one for $9—but it’s only for special stuff now.”

Hibah Ansari is a reporter for Sahan Journal covering immigration and politics. She was named the 2022 Young Journalist of the Year by the Minnesota Society of Professional Journalists. She’s a graduate...