As consumers continue to scarcely add sriracha to their meals due to an ongoing shortage, one Camarillo pepper farmer says a lack of supplies isn’t what’s causing the issue for a popular Southern California company.
Huy Fong Foods, known for its iconic red and green bottles of sriracha, announced last year it was facing a shortage that would impact its beloved hot sauce. It blamed bad weather on affecting crops of key chili peppers, ultimately causing the shortage.
“We are still endeavoring to resolve this issue that has been caused by several spiraling events, including unexpected crop failure from the spring chili harvest,” Huy Fong Foods said in a 2022 statement to NBC News.
One Southern California farmer says that isn’t the case, however.
Craig Underwood, owner of Underwood Ranches, worked with Irwindale-based Huy Fong Foods from 1988 through 2016. The partnership ceased after David Tran, the man behind the legendary sriracha, sued Underwood for a debt he wanted paid back. The farmer countersued and ultimately, a jury awarded Underwood $23 million for breach of contract, concealment and intentional misrepresentation.
“When the verdict came in, I had tears in my eyes,” Underwood said.
According to the farmer, Huy Fong Foods would be in plentiful supply of its key ingredients if it were still in business with him. He said his crop of jalapenos are thriving.
“At our peak, we produced 100 million pounds of peppers on 2,000 acres, and we delivered 50 truck and trailer loads a day,” Underwood said.
After the business partnership ended, Huy Fong Foods largely sought jalapenos from Mexican farms. The hot sauce company remains that an “unprecedented inventory shortage” continues to impact its supply, it said in a statement released April of 2023.
NBCLA reached out to Huy Fong Foods for comment on Underwood’s statements. The company has not responded.
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