Bakers scrambling to get Rice Krispies ahead of the holiday season
Shortage caused by supply constraints, labour dispute, Kellogg's says
The shortage of a key ingredient ahead of the holidays has left many bakers caught in a crunch — scrambling to get their hands on Rice Krispies, one of the main components of a lot of Christmas treats like peanut butter balls and holiday squares.
Grocery stores say they're struggling to keep up with demand and keep the cereal in stock amid a shortage.
"We had a few boxes downstairs, and we had some people call and they came right away to get them. And that has been it," said Brittany Blaisdell, who works at the Ellerslie Red & White store near Tyne Valley, P.E.I.
"We haven't been able to get any more in."
Blaisdell said she's been getting lots of calls from people who say they haven't been able to find the Kellogg's cereal anywhere on the Island.
"It's a bit of a smaller community here and you get to know the regular people that do all the Christmas baking and stuff like that," she said.
I was getting low and I started to panic.— Trudy Caseley
"That's kind of what they're looking for, and they haven't been able to find them."
The cereal is in short supply across Canada, due in part to the global supply chain crisis and a strike that has hit four Kellogg's cereal plants in the U.S., where 1,400 workers have been off the job since October.
"There's a big hole there where the Rice Krispies should be," said David Fraser, store manager at the Co-Op in Souris, P.E.I. He says it's been hard to get the product for more than a month.
"For peanut butter balls especially, and other baking items, it's one of the necessities for baking."
Kellogg Canada isn't sure when things will change.
"At this time, we do not have an estimated date on when the product will be back in stock, but can assure you we are working as fast as we can to get it back on store shelves," the company said in a statement to CBC News.
Kellogg's had reached a tentative agreement with the union which represents the workers. But on Tuesday the workers rejected the deal, and negotiations collapsed.
In the meantime, bakers may have to look for suitable substitutions to add that snap, crackle and pop.
"They're looking for alternatives and I'm not sure what the best item would be actually, so they're just hoping they come in eventually," Fraser said.
Fraser said his store still has holiday versions of Rice Krispies which come with red and green-coloured rice, but he said bakers prefer the original.
Rice Krispies are key at Mary's Bake Shoppe in Kensington, P.E.I., which makes up to 400 peanut butter balls in the lead-up to Christmas.
Owner Trudy Caseley said she felt a big sense of relief when she was able to get the product.
"I always buy them in bulk, like big bags of them, and I was getting low and I started to panic. But I did find them," she said.
Ryan Dugay, the general manager of Kays Wholesale, where Caseley found the Rice Krispies, says he has more coming, but that he'll run out soon.
"My supplier is sitting at about 240 cases at the moment. I can have them hopefully as early as Friday," Dugay said.
"Currently, I think the supermarkets realized we have them so they cleaned us out. So I realize I need to order some."
With files from Angela Walker and The Associated Press