It May Be Harder Than Ever To Buy Your Thanksgiving Pie This Year

As the feast-filled holiday season approaches, rising food prices and disruptions in the global supply chain have impacted consumers and corporations alike, as both home cooks and culinary companies scramble to purchase everything needed for a proper Thanksgiving feast. And, of course, that includes everyone's favorite festive treat: pie.

A new report in The Washington Post documents the various supply chain setbacks facing Mike's Pies — a popular Florida-based commercial bakery — and illustrates how labor shortages and the effects of global warming are driving up prices and driving down the supply of many essential ingredients. For the average American, that means likely paying a higher price for your holiday pie — if you can get your hands on one in the first place.

Tampa-based Mike's Pies, which specializes in a key lime pie as well as a variety of cheesecakes, cakes, and pies, has recently been forced to put a pause on online pie orders and cut already existing orders, as access to some of the company's most crucial ingredients has been halted. Owner Mike Martin, who founded the bakery in 1992 with his mother's recipes, cited shortages in wheat, honey, soybean oil, berries, and other essential ingredients for the negative impact on his decades-old business.

Severe weather has lead to widespread ingredient shortages

Extreme weather events, such as wildfires, droughts, and floods, are largely to blame for the major disruptions in the availability of many of the products commercial bakeries — like Mike Martin's — rely on to produce their products. "I don't know what tomorrow is going to bring. I could walk in, and they say we can't get boxes, or we can't get sugar," Martin told The Washington Post. "Orders are going through the roof, prices are skyrocketing, and we're having to order way out and to order more than we've ever ordered."

Suppliers like Richmond Baking, Mike's Pies' 20-year graham cracker crumbs vendor, had to cancel shipments to the baker as a result of its own severe shortages and skyrocketing prices for ingredients like wheat, oil, and dairy — industries that have all taken a catastrophic hit from severe weather in recent years. As a result of historic droughts throughout key wheat-growing regions, which resulted in the destruction of large swaths of crops, the price of wheat alone has hit unprecedented highs, impacting countless businesses. "Every consumer package goods company is feeling it," said Janis Abbingsole, vice president of operations at King Arthur Flour, noting that "the pressure on ... wheat is a result of weather and drought conditions."

Consumers should expect low supplies of holiday baked goods this year

The cost and availability of honey and vanilla — two key ingredients in graham crackers — have also been impacted. The honeybee population has been driven down as much as 45 percent in some regions, as fire and drought have cut down on the bees' food supply. Meanwhile, severe weather conditions in Madagascar, the world's main producer of vanilla, have driven away local farmers, sending supplies plummeting.

"There is no place to run and hide from extreme weather events," Michael Swanson, Wells Fargo's chief agricultural economist, told The Washington Post. For food producers like Mike's Pies, this may mean bracing for continued long-term shortages. To prepare for the uncertain future of the supply chain, Mike Martin has already begun stockpiling some of the bakery's most essential ingredients in case of future shortages. As Martin's business — and all commercial bakeries — grapples with these issues, consumers should expect to find store shelves emptier than usual and prices higher than in the past.

While a number of seasonal dishes are at risk of serious shortages, pies are one of the items most at risk for being completely sold out this holiday season, according to IRI, a market research company that tracks global retail data. So, for those who want to have their pie and eat it too, you may want to snag your Thanksgiving baked goods now ... while you still have the chance.