By Renée Jean, Tourism and Business Reporter
A sugar shortage is the latest link in a supply chain boondoggle that’s squeezing many industries across Wyoming and the United States.
With the holiday season just over the horizon, there doesn’t appear to be a reprieve for the shortage of sugar and a couple of other holiday baking staples. That may mean some withdrawal pains for those who look forward to making their homemade cookies and candies.
Sugar is the latest supply chain issue that’s impacting Wyoming, joining eggs that have been in short supply for months.
And USDA statistics suggest butter supplies also are down substantially. Butter supplies in storage facilities fell 10% month over month for August, according to agency’s most recent statistics. That’s down 22% compared to the same time last year.
Butter prices, meanwhile, are up about 25%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Nevermind The Beef, Where’s The Sugar?
Customers in Cheyenne seeking sugar the last two weekends found grocery store shelves mostly bare of granulated and powdered sugar.
People were left to choose from more expensive options like sugar cubes or brown sugar, the latter not necessarily right for every baked good. Even so, the more expensive options also appeared sparse.
A Walmart employee at the Dell Range location in Cheyenne named Kathy told Cowboy State Daily the store has been short on granulated sugar for about a month now. But it does expect a sizable shipment of sugar within a couple of weeks.
“It should be close to what we’re used to getting,” she said. “Probably not 100%, but close.”
Kathy, who declined to give her last name or title, said she wasn’t sure what’s causing the sugar shortage.
“I’m not sure if it’s a demand problem or that people might be buying more for the holidays and they’re not shipping enough to counteract that, if that makes sense,” she said.
Blow For Businesses
Short supplies of holiday baking staples is nothing new to chefs and bakery owners in Wyoming.
Chef Z with Paris in the West in Cheyenne told Cowboy State Daily that it’s been struggling to get baking supplies for much longer than a month.
“It’s been the game for a while now,” said Chef Z. “Probably for the last year.”
At The Sugar Mouse Cupcake House in downtown Laramie, owner Ruth Williams also reports struggling to source nearly every baking staple for her business.
When she does find what she’s looking for, prices are substantially higher.
“My accountant tells me that I need to raise prices because true food has gone up, like, 40% since I opened my bakery two year ago,” she said.
Until recently, getting butter and eggs had been her biggest issues. Then a few weeks ago, Williams was suddenly unable to buy any powdered sugar.
“What is a cupcake shop going to do without powdered sugar?” Williams asked. “I mean, we go through at least one 50-pound bag every day, close to two some days on the weekends. So, it really left us high and dry.”
Williams said she made road trips to every Sam’s Club and Costco she could find within driving distance to source the powdered and brown sugar she needs for her recipes.
“You want to keep your prices low to keep customers and just to be a nice person,” she said. “But at the same time, you have to sustain your business.”