I'll Bite

Canned pumpkin: Supply is great, so far

So far, Charlotte stores expect to have plenty of canned pumpkin.
So far, Charlotte stores expect to have plenty of canned pumpkin.

Canned pumpkin shortage? Or not.

After national news reports broke out this week, I checked with Harris Teeter, Food Lion and Whole Foods. The answer from all of them: What shortage? They have plenty on their shelves and expect to have plenty through the end of the year. And after the end of the year, would you really notice a tighter supply of canned pumpkin?

From Darrah Gist of Whole Foods’ regional offices in Atlanta: “Our supply of canned pumpkin is solid this holiday season, per our supplier and my grocery team. We are not concerned about our stock levels.” Whole Foods is even considering making their 356 brand version available all year instead of just seasonally.

So what’s up with the canned-pumpkin shortage reports? From Fox News: “Canned pumpkin shortage plans to ruin Thanksgiving.” From People.com: “Start stocking up! There could be a canned pumpkin shortage.” From The Guardian: “Pumpkin pie may be missing by Christmas, thanks to climate change.”

All of this sounds so familiar. And it is: In 2009, I wrote about a canned pumpkin shortage, too. Just like this year’s, it was blamed on bad weather the year before. Pumpkin (or really, winter squash, which is what’s in many cans of canned pumpkin) is grown on farms, and all farms are affected by weather, drought and climate. But here’s what I really remember from that year of so-called pumpkin shortage: The cans of pumpkin that were still on my shelf long after I stocked up. I didn’t really need them. By the time the fall baking season rolled around again the next year, there was plenty of pumpkin.

So should you stock up now? That’s up to you. But after 25 or 30 years of following food news developments, I can’t help noticing how “impending shortage” stories usually include dire predictions that come from the people who sell the product in question.

Now, if we could arrange a shortage on the annual avalanche of pumpkin beers and coffees, maybe I could get behind that. I got a pumpkin latte by mistake the other day and was reminded once again: It tastes like mud.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis