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Bakers, rejoice! Pumpkin shortage nearly over
By Kim Mikus | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/15/2009 2:03 PM | Updated: 10/15/2009 8:35 PM

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Suburban bakers gearing up for the fall season of preparing pumpkin pies should have an easier time finding a necessary staple next week.

Due to a shortage of pure pumpkin, many grocery stores have been sold out of the cans for the past several weeks. But it appears supplies will be adequate at least starting next week. With the time for baking pumpkin breads and pies quickly approaching, retailers say they are relieved the cans of pumpkin should be back on the shelves in the baking aisles soon.

"We are getting a full shipment next week," said Karen May, communications manager for Jewel Osco.

Dominick's stores expect to have the pumpkin in their stores by Thursday of next week.

The shortage is a result of the poor pumpkin crop a year ago, resulting in low production of the pumpkin that is primarily used for baking, May explained.

"People are buying in quantities when they see it on the shelves," said Jeff Norkiewicz, vice president of marketing at Dominick's.

The grocers said prices of canned pumpkin are essentially the same as last year.

Area bakeries have heard of the shortage from customers but have not experienced the inability to buy the canned pumpkin.

"It appears the shortage is in the small cans usually found in the grocery stores," said Eileen Muhr, owner of Old World Bakery in Lake Zurich. Muhr has had no problem in ordering the larger cans for commercial use.

The shortage at the grocery stores is a result of the poor pumpkin crop due to bad weather a year ago, confirmed Nestle USA, which owns the Libby's Pumpkin brand.

Pumpkin is harvested and canned once a year and then distributed to warehouses. Libby's Pumpkin, which makes up nearly 90 percent of the market share, is canned at a facility in Morton, Ill., near the 5,000 acres where the company's pumpkins are grown.