Gluten-free and specialty health foods hit hard by supply chain crisis

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) — People with dietary restrictions now have to spend more and be more careful than ever due to a shortage of specialty health foods.

“Sometimes one of these ingredients that goes into our flour will disappear. As tapioca starch has been very scarce since November, during the busiest time of the year, we had no tapioca starch that we could easily get it,” said Jennifer Kinkade, owner of a dedicated gluten-free bakery and cafe.

She has never seen such high prices for basic necessities in her store. The price has tripled for ingredients like tapioca starch.

“Flours are one of the hardest things right now. So when you talk about getting these flours, the prices are higher, so their products are more expensive. So gluten-free is still expensive, but I think it’s even more expensive now,” she said.

Prices at Dedicated have gone up due to the shortage, but she says that’s only a fraction of the increase they’re paying for ingredients. It’s a price she’s willing to pay for the customers who rely on them. Supply chain expert Ken Gyure says this industry is being impacted in ways he has never seen before.

“There have been warnings to make sure people use certified gluten-free foods, only because they find out that farmers have really, due to labor shortages, prioritized their cultures,” he explained.

Gyure says that in order for these companies to continue making products, they use things that aren’t 100% gluten-free. This means that items in stores that were previously gluten-free may only be mostly gluten-free.

“For specialty foods in many cases, like gluten-free, people are buying it for a reason, for a health reason. That doesn’t change. Between that and the increased demand, you see prices go up just because that people can’t get it,” he said.

Gyure says that doesn’t mean people have to hoard these specialty items, but it’s not a bad idea to stock up when you come across them.

He expects this industry will not return to normal until the labor crisis is resolved.

Copyright 2022 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.

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