Shortage of popcorn supply could eat away at summer movie franchise profits

What would a movie theater be without popcorn? We could find out this summer as tight supply and other issues in the chain make it difficult for theaters to stock popcorn and other concession supplies, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

“The popcorn supply will be tight,” Norm Krug, CEO of supplier Preferred Popcorn, told CinemaCon, according to the Journal. He said he had to pay some of his 150 farmers more than usual to stop them switching to less demanding crops like soybeans.

And even if theaters get enough popcorn, finding something to put it in is its own challenge: Neely Shiefelbein, sales manager for concession company Goldenlink North America, said there’s been a shortage of shiny liners that prevent popcorn bags from leaking and seeping. She told the Journal that some chains use more expensive metal or plastic containers.

“At the end of the day,” she said, “they must have something to put popcorn on.”

As farmers grow less popcorn, a backlog of plastic trays and cups so hard to find that some movie chains are buying competitors’ unused supply – even with a rival’s logo still on display – the Theater owners big and small are feeling the pressure.

“It’s a mess,” Jeff Benson, CEO of Cinergy Entertainment Group, which has theaters in North Carolina, Texas and Oklahoma, told the Journal. He also struggles to find bags of popcorn, as well as platters of nachos and flavors of soda.

“You’re just not going to have root beer until she arrives,” he said.

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