Pumpkin shortage could mean no Christmas pies
Nestle controls an incredible 85% of the U.S. pumpkin crop destined for canning, and it's located on 5,000 acres of farmland in Illinois. The crop was looking 15% to 50% smaller than normal at the end of the summer; and then came the fall rains, which destroyed what remained. Typically, Nestle cans the late bloomers from the 2009 crop in October and November to stock shelves for Christmas and the first half of the next year.
Because of the crop failure, after November store shelves will be bare of canned pumpkin; and the fresh pumpkin season is almost over, so consumers will be stuck buying other, hardier squashes, like acorn, hubbard and kabocha squash, and learning to cook the squash into puree, on their own. Most stores questioned by the LA Times said they wouldn't be raising prices due to the shortage.
It's a good year to be a gardener and a scratch cook; if that's you, as America's second favorite pie disappears this month, you may want to share your wealth.