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Taco Bell says food shortages are affecting the availability of some menu items

Customers have already begun reporting issues when visiting some restaurants

Photo (c) SCQBJ-JZ - Getty Images
If you’re someone who likes going to Taco Bell, then the restaurant chain has some bad news for you: Some of your favorite menu items may not be available the next time you stop in. 

The fast-food chain says it’s running low on certain items because of current food shortages. The company has posted a note at the top of its website to let customers know about the issues it’s facing. 

“Sorry if we can't feed your current crave. Due to national ingredient shortages and delivery delays, we may be out of some items,” the note states.

The menu problem is already catching the ire of Taco Bell devotees on social media, and reviewers on ConsumerAffairs are losing patience too. Helen from Florida wrote that “all the items I used to order are gone… Taco salad, Mexican pizza, pinto and cheese just to name a few. Good luck with your new menu but I won’t be eating here.”

Georgette from Washington state also sensed something adrift when she went to pick up her order. “Three taco supreme, crunchy. They were hardly like the supreme I remember. Only lettuce. no tomatoes, a small dab of sour cream…,” she wrote in her review.

Shortages and price increases

Reports indicate that Taco Bell is running short on several food items that it uses to complete orders. For example, the chain is having a hard time getting enough chicken, but it’s not alone. Chicken processors are in a world of hurt right now because the industry’s shortage of workers has led to fewer chickens being processed. That’s causing higher prices that are being passed down to consumers.

Wheat is another precious commodity that Taco Bell is short on. When ConsumerAffairs looked at the chain’s ingredient list, there were 11 different products that included wheat, including chalupa shells and flour tortillas. The USDA has forecasted a 37% drop in the availability of wheat from last year, so things may not get better anytime soon.

Pinto beans also appear to be in short supply. According to USFoods, pinto bean prices have surged due to dry weather and stable export demand to Mexico. Complicating the matter, the USDA says that dry bean planted acreage is also down in 2021 from 2020.

Price increases for other items are also hurting Taco Bell and other restaurants. When ConsumerAffairs took a look at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) producer price forecast, we noticed that the cost of wholesale beef rose 14.3% and prices for farm-level vegetables rose by 6.4% from April to May. Price tracking from AGDaily’s “Dirt to Dinner” shows that the price of iceberg lettuce has almost doubled.

Where is this all going?

No one knows for sure where this is all going, but consumers may need to deal with food shortages and price increases for a while. 

It’s not just a Taco Bell thing either. Restaurants, in general, are dealing with shortages of various foodstuffs due to the return of indoor dining across the nation. Grocers are stockpiling to make up for shortages, but that probably won’t slow the tide of rising prices in the short term. However, experts say things should turn around eventually.

“Economists, government officials, and other experts say the pace of inflation is likely to ease over time. But no one seems anxious to say exactly when that will occur, or by how much the rate of inflation may drop,” said Dirt to Dinner’s Garland West.

“But we do know that food price increases come from many causes and directions, and smart consumers will need to keep a careful eye on the food choices we make every day. We continue to spend about 10 percent of our disposable income on food at home and away — less than any other nation. Smart shopping can help us maintain that status.”

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