Lately we have been getting a lot of customers asking about stock levels of certain products and why it’s taking a while to restock items? Why they keep going out of stock? Why some best by dates are so short? Why we can’t get any more of a certain product in?
Most of you already now that we deal with many hard to find items. Did you know however that many of the items we carry only come from small farms? Sometimes these items are only available from one single farm in the entire world. For example, the Peruvian Yacon Syrup we carry is produced in one small region in Peru. Although there are versions from China available, we find that the Peruvian Yacon has the best flavour profile and is less bitter than the Chinese brand. Not only that, the Peruvian one is certified organic.
This being said, Essential Living Foods who supplies us with the Yacon has been out of stock for months due to the increase in demand caused by Dr Oz who was promoting it on his show. As soon as the episode aired, yacon stocks were depleted and the producer in Peru was totally out of of stock. Stripped completely in hours. It’s not like you can just make yacon. You have to wait for it to grow which takes months. Since this happened almost 8-12 months ago, it’s been very difficult to get Peruvian Yacon. We are hoping to have some more stock in a few weeks.
Another example are some of are our Botija olives. We have several varieties, but sometimes we can run out for months since there are only 2 farms in Peru that produce these wonderful olives and they are supplying the whole world. We order them in large quantities so that they last us until the next crop but sometimes they can not fulfill our entire order so we are left waiting for the next harvest.
These are just a couple of examples of items from Peru. Now can you imagine running out of things like pumpkin seeds. Our supplier has been out of stock for over 2 months. Again, you can’t just snap your fingers and get pumpkin seeds. We have to wait for the next crop to be harvested and bagged and shipped which will be early next year. What happens when the world is low on traditional pumpkin seeds? They buy whatever they can and the price is gies up. So now the more expensive Austrian pumpkin seeds are scarce until the new harvest and their price has also increased.
These are just a few examples of what happens to our food chain when we are dealing with real food and not processed food. I don’t think stores will be running out of items like traditional GMO corn or soy products, or processed foods which use a large amount of these products. When it comes to raw food such as nuts, seeds and super foods, high demand can strip the market of a product in days. This is exactly what just recently happened with maca powder. One buyer stepped in and purchased all the Peruvian Maca leaving hardly any behind for any of the traditional buyers of maca. Our sources tell us that all this maca was bought by the Chinese. So maca will be a lot harder to find in the next few months.
Another factor to consider is the weather. Below is a letter we received from one of our suppliers regarding typhoons that hit and wiped out 25% of the coconut trees in some areas causing an increase in price of coconut products. Most companies, like Upaya Naturals, absorbed a lot of the price increase so the consumers only saw a small rise in price.
“Last week a typhoon, (Tropical storm Rammasun), passed through parts of South East Asia striking The Philippines, Viet Nam and China. It caused severe damages in the Philippines. Damage assessment is ongoing but early estimates put damages higher than those experienced under Typhoon Yolanda last year. Eight months ago, Typhoon Yolanda impacted the Philippines. It was estimated to have damaged 10% of the coconut trees. This year, following Tropical storm Rammasunm, early damage estimates are putting the number at 13% of coconut trees damaged. This is In addition to the damages done at the time of Yolanda. We are looking at 25% of the coconut trees in the Philippines sustaining damage within a period of 8 months. Everyone in the coconut industry worldwide was affected by the aftermath of Yolanda in 2013. In addition to supply shortages, prices for coconut products escalated between 30% and 50% depending on the product. The market was beginning to stabilize after 8 months of adjustment before this latest storm hit. Some suppliers have taken themselves off the market to assess the damage.”
You may have noticed that some items have very short best by dates of less than a year, less than 3 months and sometimes less than a month. You have to understand that all the food products we sell do not contain any added preservatives. Products that are fully dried usually have a longer shelf life (this may vary depending on the ingredients) compared to those that are only partially dried like our super green wraps, corn wraps or tomato wraps. So when you are buying figs, raisins, nuts, seeds, dried fruits etc. ours are not coated in oil or sulphates to help preserve them. They are raw and naked. That is why they may look a bit different than the shiny ones sitting on grocery shelves. When you get into finished products such as fresh wraps, kale chips, nut butters, bars etc., that take the raw products and grind, crush and blend them to make their finished products, you then have an even lower shelf life since you have now altered the food from it’s raw state. Now you have wraps that are made fresh that have a shelf life of 1-2 months, nut butters with shelf life of 6-12 months, kale chips with a shelf life of 6-10 months.
Consider that these items still have to get to us from our suppliers and sometimes it takes us some time to sell them. So now we are talking about a turn around time of a month to a few months for some of these products to be sold. As you can see, unlike conventional products that can sit on a shelf for a year or so, most raw food products typically have a shelf life of 3 months to a year. So now that you know this you can appreciate the task involved in ordering and replenishing stock.
Finally, we get to some items that have been out of stock for a long time such as the tempeh starter, vegan yogurt starter or pine pollen. Sometimes there are items that we used to stock but our supplier stopped producing them or they went out of business . This is what happened with our pine pollen and our tempeh and yogurt starter. We are happy to say that we recently found a new source so all these products should be back in stock in a few weeks.
Hopefully this helped shed some light and woke you up a bit on how the world of raw specialty foods works. We live this lifestyle and eat this food too, our intention is to keep things in stock of course. Sometimes there are some bumps and delays, but we try our best to provide the highest quality raw foods on the earth today all available at your fingertips with a click of the mouse.
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