The COVID-19 pandemic has robbed us of many things, like, oh, our mental health, and also yeast. But the latest supply chain snafu really stings, especially as we approach Jiffy corn casserole season. Friends, a canned corn shortage is upon us.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the effects of COVID-19 have dented the canned corn industry in a number of ways. First, the sweet corn used for canning is only harvested once a year, meaning the annual corn supply has to last for months. In normal times, that’s not a problem—but when frantic shoppers stockpiled non-perishables at the beginning of the pandemic, corn positively flew off the shelves. In fact, the WSJ cited a 47% increase in canned corn sales compared to last year.
What’s a corn magnate to do? Turns out, vegetable-canning companies Green Giant and Del Monte both encouraged farmers to plant extra corn this season to make up for lost kernels—but sweet corn farmers had already set rigid planting plans. Shrinking trucking fleets also led to transport issues like delayed deliveries, while international imports from new suppliers proved prohibitively pricey.
Now, the WSJ reports that canned-corn brands plan to increase production 25% over 2019. But for now, retailers may be left scrambling for the upcoming holiday season. After all, there isn’t a great substitute for canned corn in most dishes. It’s a hard kernel to swallow, but you might be stuck thawing bags of frozen corn this year—lest ye weather a corn-free holiday season.