Is There a Basil Shortage? Supply Chain Woes Continue in 2022

Many consumers have been struggling to find basil leaves. Is there a basil shortage in 2022? How long will the supply chain issues last?

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author

Jan. 10 2022, Published 8:52 a.m. ET

Over the last two years, consumers have faced a shortage of many foods and daily-use products. Just when it seemed that the global supply chain issues would abate in 2022, the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has changed that assumption. Many consumers have been struggling to find basil leaves. Is there a basil shortage in 2022?

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, there has been an intermittent shortage of several products. The global supply chain has been under severe stress. Consumers and businesses are grappling with supply chain issues.

Companies are dealing with supply chain issues.

Apple, which is the largest company in the world, couldn't source enough chips in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2021 and lost $6 billion in sales. General Motors lost its position as the largest automaker in the U.S. when its production was hit by supply chain issues. Toyota became the largest vehicle seller in the U.S. in 2021. It was the first time since 1931 that a Detroit automaker wasn’t the biggest automaker in the U.S.

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Consumers are also facing some food product shortages.

Consumers across the U.S. have also been complaining about not being able to find certain food products. There have been seasonal shortages, like some turkey sizes and cranberries around Thanksgiving and champagne around the New Year.

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Then there have been reports of shortages of potatoes and strawberries in some locations. Even some packaged food products like Pillsbury and Hot Cheetos have been in short supply.

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Is there a basil shortage?

Some consumers have been talking about a basil shortage on social media. Apart from not being able to find basil leaves at stores, people are perplexed when they can't find basil leaves for their favorite dishes or there's only a leaf or two provided on meals at restaurants.

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Restaurants across the country have had to alter their recipes amid the intermittent shortage of some products. As for basil, while there aren't any credible reports of a nationwide shortage, consumers in different locations have been complaining of one.

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Does the U.S. produce basil or import it?

In the U.S., basil is mainly commercially cultivated in southern and western states since the climate is conducive for production. The plant is tender and cold weather can destroy it.

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Since the production data for basil isn't compiled individually and it's clubbed with other herbs, we don’t know for sure if the basil production in the U.S. has fallen this season. However, the country does import a lot of herbs, and the global supply chain and logistics issues might have taken a toll on basil as well.

Global basil production was hit in 2021.

In 2021, privately-held aromatic chemicals and essential oil supplier Berjé said that the basil harvesting season was shortened by COVID-19 lockdowns and a delay in the final harvest. It said that there was a supply shortfall in countries like India, Vietnam, and Egypt. The supplier also said that basil consumption increased because many people thought that the herb boosts immunity levels, despite a lack of medical evidence supporting the belief.

People might be loading up on basil leaves again amid the steep rise in omicron cases in the U.S.


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