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Food & Drink

San Francisco’s Chinatown selling sriracha for $8–is the shortage over?

At a time when Huy Fong Foods’ sriracha has become something of a luxury item, seeing cases of bottles feels like finding an oasis in a desert. | Source: Eddie Sun/The Standard

If you’ve been desperately craving Huy Fong Foods’ sriracha hot sauce but haven’t been willing to pay insane markups, San Francisco’s Chinatown is where you need to be. 

The green-topped sriracha has become something of a luxury item since the shortage began in July 2020.

A Reddit post Wednesday alerted fans of the chili sauce to cases of Huy Fong sriracha being sold in Chinatown for a relatively reasonable price of $8.99 per bottle. The Standard ventured to Sun Kau Shing Company on Stockton Street to grab a bottle for our spice-craving newsroom. The array of green bottle caps was unmissable along the sidewalk. Each box of sriracha contained 12 bottles, with a price sticker of $8.99 per bottle—a taste test revealed it's legit.

It turns out more than one Chinatown vendor is stocked up on the good stuff. 

READ MORE: Here’s How To Get Your Hands on a Bottle of Sriracha in San Francisco

As for where the shop got its inventory from, a Shing Company cashier said she didn’t know, despite an intense line of questioning in Mandarin. 

A slightly better deal for sriracha was discovered minutes away at Hing Fung Trading Company on Vallejo Street. Tucked behind trays of dried goods, the store had a small supply of Huy Fong sriracha on its shelves for $7.99 each.

A worker at the store, who would not give their name and spoke in Mandarin, said the store receives shipments of the sriracha directly from a wholesaler but wouldn’t disclose who the wholesaler was. The worker said it was selling bottles for $30 a pop just months ago, but deliveries of sriracha have come more regularly over the past few weeks.

Bottles of Huy Fong Foods' sriracha from two different markets in San Francisco's Chinatown go for $8.99 and $7.99 a bottle. | Source: Eddie Sun/The Standard

While the cooling price for the hot sauce could be a cause for optimism, things are not quite back to old times yet: The Hing Fung worker said its wholesaler is still dealing with a sriracha shortage and is only fulfilling half the store’s orders.

READ MORE: No Sriracha? No Problem: Here’s 7 Local Hot Sauces to Broaden Your Palate and Expand Your Mind

Other vendors have not been so fortunate with their wholesalers. At Xing Ye Trading on Broadway, a worker said they haven’t sold the Huy Fong sriracha for months due to the shortage.

Supermarkets seem to be out of luck, too–a supervisor at the Potrero Center Safeway, who did not give their name as they are not authorized to speak to the press, said the store hasn’t received a shipment of the sriracha for nearly four months. An empty space on its shelf had the price for Huy Fong sriracha listed at just $3.49.

At the Portrero Center Safeway, shelf space for Huy Fong Foods' sriracha sits empty. A supervisor said the store hasn't had the chili sauce in inventory for months. | Source: Eddie Sun/The Standard

Is Sriracha Shortage Over?

Huy Fong Foods told The Standard it recently resumed limited production of sriracha. But sadly for fans of the sauce, the firm is still experiencing a shortage of raw materials, a spokesperson for the company said. The spokesperson added they don’t know which retailers or stores have sriracha because the company doesn’t directly sell it to them.

The chili sauce producer initially said in July 2020 that it was dealing with a jalapeño pepper shortage, which continued through April 2022. Huy Fong’s former pepper supplier suggested the severing of their professional relationship in 2017 led to supply issues.