Markets, restaurants report Gardenburger shortage
Where have all the veggie burgers gone? Due to production delays, Gardenburger brand meatless patties have all but disappeared from many...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Where have all the veggie burgers gone?
Due to production delays, Gardenburger brand meatless patties have all but disappeared from many supermarket shelves and restaurant menus. As a result, supplies of chief rivals Boca Burger and MorningStar Farms' patties are dwindling as well, unable to keep up with increased demand from supermarkets and restaurants.
Red Mill Burgers in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood was out of MorningStar patties over the weekend. Out of Gardenburgers since June 19, Red Robin restaurants are steering customers toward Boca Burgers, said spokesman Kevin Caulfield.
The Gardenburger and Boca sections were empty or limited at many supermarkets around the Seattle area, including QFC, Fred Meyer, Metropolitan Market, PCC Natural Markets, TOP Food & Drug and Haggen stores — a big culinary problem in a region with one of the nation's largest concentrations of vegetarians.
While some buyers noticed a shrinking Gardenburger pipeline as far back as April, the supply issue grew especially bleak in late May. That's when Kellogg's, which bought the brand in November, told customers of a quality-control issue at its Gardenburger plant.
That prompted Fred Meyer to pull its Gardenburger products, said spokeswoman Melinda Merrill. Haggen Foods followed suit. Other stores chose to sell remaining stock, given that food safety was not a concern. All have been turning to other brands to fill customer needs.
Metropolitan Market spokesman Brad Halverson says the chain has been out of all Gardenburger varieties for about 90 days now.
Kellogg's has now resumed production at its Clearfield, Utah, Gardenburger plant, a spokesperson said Tuesday via e-mail. She attributed the delays to facility improvements.
"We apologize for the inconvenience this caused our loyal customers. However, we are pleased to report that production has started again," she wrote. "We are working as hard as we can to fill orders in time for the summer grilling season."
Kraft Foods, which makes Boca Burger, is striving to boost production and at least deliver partial orders as demand has soared, spokesman Basil Maglaris said.
"We're exploring ways to increase production but can't predict when supplies will meet demand," he said. "We're pleased people are interested in the product."
The shortages have proved a coup for other veggie-patty brands, including California-based Amy's Kitchen, which had space enough to boost production. June sales more than doubled from the previous June, said marketing manager Michelle Erbs.
"The issues with Gardenburger have certainly opened up new opportunities," Erbs said. "It's been a good summer for us."
Karen Gaudette: 206-515-5618
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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