New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)
Pumpkins, groceries see state price hike, shortages nationwide
“Our pumpkin sales are up 40 percent over last year mostly because we think people are rushing to buy them early because they were worried about pumpkins selling out.”
Jake Tavello, vice president of Stew Leonard’s
Pumpkins, the telltale fruit of the Halloween season, are among the items facing shortages this holiday season. Pumpkin patches and farms around the country are facing the reality of not having enough pumpkins to meet the demand as issues of drought, shipping delays and labor shortages are plaguing the industry, ABC News reported.
The shortage is not only affecting decorative pumpkins, it’s also affecting baked goods such as pumpkin pies and pumpkin bread.
Jake Tavello, vice president of Stew Leonard’s and grandson of founder Stew Leonard Sr., said that while pumpkin products are flying off of the shelves this year, there is no need for customers to “panic.”
“We’re kind of at the height of it now. It’s going to ease up in the next couple of weeks as we head into the holidays,” Tavello said. “Our pumpkin sales are up 40 percent over last year mostly because we think people are rushing to buy them early because they were worried about pumpkins selling out.”
Tavello credits his longstanding relationship with suppliers as the reason why Stew Leonard’s has been able to anticipate and work around these shortages.
“We’ve anticipated this coming months ago so we’ve loaded up our warehouses and made sure to lock everything in with our suppliers so we’ll have plenty of stuff heading into the holidays,” Tavello said.
The ongoing trend of shortages continues across the country as supply chain and labor issues have increased the cost of items like meat and eggs by 5.9 percent since 2020 and 15.7 percent since
2019, according to a Washington Post article. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden addressed general inflation and the issue of traffic jams at ports where shipping containers arrive.
As part of the shortages, prices have increased for goods at Stew Leonard’s since 2020 due to the ongoing transportation and labor issues surrounding the industry, according to Tavello. For example, the N.Y. strip and Porterhouse steaks climbed $2 more per pound since 2020, according to advertisement fliers from Stew Leonard’s.
Speaking of meat, smaller frozen turkeys will be increasingly harder to find in stores for Thanksgiving this year, Butterball spokeswoman Christa Leupen told
NBC’s Today show in August.
“Challenges like labor and transportation that have persisted throughout the pandemic have made it difficult to maintain a normal production flow,” Today quoted Leupen as saying. “The result? Smaller frozen turkeys could be harder to find in stores this November.”
Tavello said that Stew’s has been polling customers this year to find out what turkey sizes people want in order to ensure they will have what customers are looking for.
“We’re seeing a lot of customers saying that they’re actually going to go back to the similar size [to 2019],” Tavello said. “[We will] adjust as we need to.”