Power Rankings: This Year’s Potential Trendy Food Shortages, from Avocado to Nutella
This week, there’s concern that the rising cost of hazelnuts will lead to a shortage of Nutella. It seems like at least once a month there is a dire prediction about the upcoming scarcity of certain foods that dominates the Twittersphere, the Facebookiverse and the Instagrammery. We have collectively placed these endangered foods, for one reason or another, on a culinary pedestal. But clearly losing some of them would be worse than others.
Here, the rankings from least to most dire.
What happened: A sudden virus wiped out a significant portion of the pig population.
Why the ranking: Bacon is the vampire of trendy food. Not in the sense that vampires are cool—that was over two years ago—in the sense that it will never, ever die. If a shortage inspired humanity to move on from bacon–scented air fresheners and underpants, that would not be such a bad thing.
6. Almond Milk
What happened: The drought in California—the state that produces 82 percent of the world’s almond supply—reached its most extreme level yet, so some trees are dying because the farmers can’t water them.
Why the ranking: Almond milk is tasty, but hardly irreplaceable. If you want a dairy alternative, you can always go with soy or cashew milk. And is there anyone drinking more than one glass of almond milk a day anyway?
What happened: After complaints that the Sriracha factory caused health problems for citizens in its hometown of Irwindale, California, the Irwindale city council declared it a nuisance. Hot sauce lovers didn’t know if the factory would be able to continue production.
Why the ranking: This one drops in the rankings, not because losing Sriracha would not be a great blow to the world of hot sauce—it would. But it was really a manufactured crisis. It’s not like the world supply of rooster bottles suddenly dried up. Sriracha just became bad politics for a time. In the same way that we don’t get upset any more when Congress can’t figure out how to name a post office, we didn’t worry too much about the frantic reporting on Sriracha.
What happened: The well-respected Lawrence Livermore lab in Livermore, California, released a paper predicting that climate change would cause a 40 percent drop in California’s avocado production.
Why the ranking: This would have been a crushing shortage if it was actually a shortage. Instead, 2014’s great avocado panic was really just one big game of Internet telephone. Chipotle said it might have to stop serving guacamole because of climate change. That led to #Guacapocalypse, and that was all the Internet needed. The unfortunate thing is that while this could have been a rallying cry to talk about climate change, a week later it was replaced by live tweets from a Beyoncé concert.
What happened: Cold spring weather in Turkey, which produces 70 percent of the world’s hazelnuts, wiped out most of Nutella’s main ingredient.
Why the ranking: Nutella is one of those ingredients whose name you can add to anything and it will immediately become popular. We would be willing to wager a tidy sum that if we started selling Nutella spread on wood chips we would make a killing. This shortage gets major points due to the potential freak-out from masses of people willing to wait in line for an hour to pay their hard-earned money for Nutella spread on toast.
What happened: A bought of coffee rust (a disease that kills coffee plants) wiped out crops in Central and South America.
Why the ranking: If one day there were a rapture-like food event and coffee was suddenly gone, the world would be plunged into chaos. In order to get caffeinated, people might have to switch to energy drinks and then before you know it we’re all watching Ow! My Balls!
1. Olive Oil
What happened: A drought in Spain, the world’s number one producer of olive oil, threatened to reduce production by 40 percent.
Why the ranking: Olive oil makes the list of trendy food shortages because of its brief moment of virality when Shailene Woodley tried to get everyone to start oil pulling instead of going to the dentist. But an olive oil shortage would be the biggest issue of the bunch. Not only is it the most versatile ingredient on the list, it’s also one of the healthiest. And if we couldn’t get olive oil, we’ll have to dip our bread in Nutella. Wait. Damn you, Turkish weather!