The U.S. pickle shortage is linked to the extreme weather of El Nino in Mexico

American news


Are you a pickle connoisseur? If so, Mexico’s extreme weather could impact the snack’s availability in the US.

Every year, Americans consume more than 20 billion pickles, but lately consumers have noticed some restaurants warning of a “national pickle shortage.”

The warnings from restaurants like Firehouse Subs, local delis and others are generally bona fide, as both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and experts at North Carolina State University say the combination of dependence on imports and extreme weather could impact the supplies.

“There is indeed a shortage of pickled cucumbers and that has to do with the reduced supply from Mexico,” Jonathan Schultheis, professor of horticultural sciences at NC State University, told FOX Weather. “It has been too hot (100°F) in certain growing areas, which is reducing yields. It was too cold in other key production regions in Mexico. The crop has not suffered from frost, but from temperatures that do not promote the growth of the pickled cucumber.”

The US imports more than a million tons of fresh cucumbers annually, about 75% of which come from Mexico, but the USDA estimates imports could decline by at least 7%.

It is this dependence on imports that is causing problems for some companies.

Every year, Americans consume more than 20 billion pickles, but lately consumers have noticed some restaurants warning of a “national pickle shortage.” Tribune News Service via Getty I

El Nino has consequences for the harvest

A climate cycle known as El Niño has brought extreme weather to Mexico’s 31 states.

In general, the warm water in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean produces more rainfall and cooler conditions in the winter and warm, dry heat in the summer.

Pickled cucumbers grow best in temperatures between 70°F and 90°F, but a constant is relatively difficult to find.

Large parts of the country have also experienced drought, leading to low water levels in reservoirs.

American cucumber imports over the years USDA
A notice on the Firehouse Subs website warns customers that some stores may be out of pickles due to the national shortage.

The country’s National Water Commission has even restricted the flow of some water reservoirs due to increased voltage and demand.

And cucumbers need a fair amount of rainfall, with growers suggesting the crops need about an inch of water per week throughout the season.

Most of Mexico’s annual rainfall falls during the summer monsoon, but varying activity levels mean the weather phenomenon is not a reliable drought fighter.

A climate cycle known as El Niño has brought extreme weather to Mexico’s 31 states. NOAA

Don’t blame Mexico for the trade disparity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says production of cucumbers and certain types of squash has declined in the country, despite increased consumer demand for healthy vegetables.

According to government estimates, consumption has even grown by more than 24% in recent years.

The United States International Trade Commission has been investigating claims of unfair trade competition – an allegation the agency says is unfounded.

Trade groups have noted that the increase in cucumber imports is due to a lack of workers, bad weather in the Southeast and consumer palates preferring the consistency of Mexican products to domestically produced ones .

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says production of cucumbers and certain types of squash has declined in the country, despite increased consumer demand for healthy vegetables. LightRocket via Getty Images

“Imports from Mexico have surpassed domestic production in the US and have become a major source of cucumber and pumpkin supply in the US market. This shift has also occurred in other fresh sectors, such as tomatoes and peppers in the fresh market. The trend observed in fresh produce is consistent with the overall rapid growth rate of US agricultural imports from Mexico,” specialists from the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences of the University of Florida previously noted.

Whether Mexican production can turn around and overcome extreme weather events remains to be seen, but there are plenty of other countries in the Americas that can help with the pickle dilemma.





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