The Great Canned Pumpkin Shortage of 2009: A Lame Marketing Strategy?
In a possible attempt to goose sales, Libby's (owned by Nestlé S.A., the multinational packaged foods company) seeded fear before Thanksgiving by warning everyone that it might not have enough canned pumpkin to satisfy demand, blaming pumpkin scarcity on things like "soggy fields" and "fungus." Of course all the news outlets (including the Associated Press) and blogs couldn't help themselves in parroting the news (ed note: we did too but were suspicious). Even Whole Foods exploited the news by sending out a press release touting that they had "plenty of our Whole Foods Market 365 Everyday Value™ canned 100% pumpkin in stock."
As seen in the above photo, taken the day after Thanksgiving in Andronico's Market in San Francisco, CA (and part of a much larger display!) — and from personal random supermarket research in Brooklyn the weekend following Thanksgiving — it's possible that the "warning" of a "shortage" was just a deceptive marketing ploy to generate buzz and extra sales. Did anyone have a hard time finding canned pumpkin?
Update: The Big Money affirms that there is indeed a pumpkin shortage. It's still unclear as to why canned pumpkin was readily available in some cities and completely sold out in others.