Here’s how the pandemic is affecting pepperoni pizzas

pepperoni shortage coronavirus pandemic
Photo via Andrew Malone/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a myriad of shortages, including toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, yeast, and flour. The latest shortage might dramatically change the way you consume pizza: the United States has a pepperoni shortage. 

Bloomberg reported that local pizza shops across the country are experiencing higher prices for the nation’s favorite pizza topping. A South Dakota-based pizza shop told the news organization that it now pays $4.12 per pound for pepperoni, increasing from $2.87 in January 2019. 

New York City pizza shop owner Matthew Hyland told Bloomberg he’s paying $6 per pound, up from $4 at the beginning of 2020. 

“It’s an American right to have pepperoni on pizza,” Hyland said. “Pepperoni is such a huge part of pizza it’s important to us that we keep it accessible.”

According to pepperoni suppliers, the increase can be attributed to both less supply and more demand. Turns out, it perhaps wasn’t the best time for Papa John’s to introduce the Shaq-A-Roni pizza that features 66 pepperoni pieces on the 16-inch extra large pie.

Bloomberg said that because pepperoni production entails a labor-intensive process, some producers stopped making it to keep up with the demand for other pork products. 

According to Business Insider, almost 32,630 meat-packing workers have been infected with COVID-19, and at least 123 have died as a result. As a result, most meat processing plants have had to dramatically reduce their production during the pandemic and take on less labor-intensive products. 

At the same time, pizza chains and independent shops have seen an increase in business throughout the duration of the pandemic, thanks to the growing popularity of takeout and delivery options. 

Business Insider reported that Domino’s actually plans to hire 20,000 new employees to meet the demand for pizza, and Papa John’s reported record North American same-store sales in its latest quarterly earnings report. (Bloomberg also reported that pizza chains have not been affected by the pepperoni shortage and its price increases, thanks to pre-negotiated contracts that lock-in supply prices). 

Lucky for pizza lovers, the independent business owners affected by the price gouging who talked to reporters have pledged not to increase prices. Or as Eater.com referred to those fair-minded owners, “Our heroes.”

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Sources: Bloomberg, Business Insider, Chicago Sun-Times

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