HARVEY SHORTAGE: H-E-B is low on buns before Labor Day, but here’s why you shouldn’t worry

There’s plenty of good and bad news coming out of Houston this week, and on this Friday before Labor Day, I have both to share.

First, the bad news: It looks like there’s a bit of a hamburger and hot dog bun shortage at H-E-B and, to a lesser extent, other retailers just before the holiday weekend. Unlike the run on gas in Austin on Friday, it doesn’t appear that this shortage is consumer-generated.

The shelves at H-E-B have, for the most part, stayed remarkably stocked in the face of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, but by Friday afternoon, hamburger and hot dog buns were running low. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

According to this story on NPR today, H-E-B had to shut down its Corpus Christi bread-making plant during the storm, leaving all the production at the Houston store. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, H-E-B had to switch over to the Corpus Christi store, which was up, but running on a generator.

But, here’s the good news: Amazingly, we haven’t had food shortages all week, despite transportation and production nightmares happening to our east and the many millions of pounds of food being diverted from the traditional food supply chain to feed evacuees, volunteers, first responders and everyone else involved in the storm recovery.

Because of H-E-B’s own recovery efforts, you might have a hard time getting buns there this weekend, but as of Friday afternoon, Sprouts, Randalls and Walmart all had those soft squishy rolls you might be hoping to buy for your Labor Day grilling get-together.

H-E-B hasn’t had both of its bread-making facilities open at the same time since Hurricane Harvey struck last week, but its Corpus Christi plant reopened on generator power a few days after the storm. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

While you’re spending time with friends and family, no matter what you’re eating, take a minute to celebrate the fact that — with the very notable exception of getting food into the areas hit hardest by the flooding and the devastation to crops in the rural areas of the state — the food supply chain seems to be holding up remarkably well a week after the state’s biggest natural disaster.


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Author: Addie Broyles

Food writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Austin360.com.

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