- Corn tortillas may be difficult to find this summer, as major corn producers struggle to meet demand.
- Labor shortages and poor weather have decreased corn yields for major producers.
- China is leading a surge in demand as it seeks to replenish its swine herd.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Taco shells will be in short supply this summer.
Corn tacos will be more difficult to find in grocery stores as demand for corn – a key product in anything from fuel to animal feed, as well as your favorite tacos – paired with supply-chain woes makes the product even more difficult to produce.
Demand for the grain has surged in recent months. Increased interest from China, as well as a combination of poor weather and labor shortages, has made the key crop an increasingly valuable commodity.
Major corn producers in Brazil and Argentina have been facing difficulty finding people to work the fields amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Axios. Major droughts in the countries responsible for 40% of the international corn market have also decimated crop yields, Reuters reported.
At the same time that supplies are down in major corn-producing countries, demand for the product commonly used in animal feed is spiking. China is leading the surge in demand, importing 40% more corn in 2021 than the last 60 years combined, according to an April report from the World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates.
The country is attempting to rebuild its swine herd after more than half of the nation’s herd was killed off by an outbreak of African swine fever in 2019, and corn feed is crucial to China’s plans to replenish it.
US farmers could see significant profit from the shortage, but unseasonably cold weather and droughts in the Midwest threatens to further diminish corn production, Axios reports.
Corn prices are at an 8-year high, rising 16% in April alone and 43.7% this year, according to MarketWatch.
Americans should “brace for higher prices” in the coming months on any corn-based products, including tortillas, senior market analyst at MOYA told USA Today.
“Corn, wheat, soybeans and even lumber prices are surging higher, and that should spell trouble in the coming months for the U.S. consumer,” Moya said.
The corn shortage is one of many food and household goods that Americans can expect to see in short supply on grocery shelves in the coming months. From surging gas prices to toilet paper and coffee shortages, the US is facing a supply-chain crisis.