Local Vietnamese restaurants scramble to maintain a supply of one of their most basic ingredients – Pho noodles.
The owners of Calgary’s Pho Kim restaurant have attempted to stock up on rice noodles, but their supplier is currently rationing the supplies.
“When we heard that there would be a shortage, we tried to get as many as possible,” said Sandy Trinh, co-owner of Vietnamese restaurant Pho Kim. But then they started to limit the number of boxes sent to each restaurant. And then we tried to stock up on other types of noodles, other brands, and even switched to fresh noodles.
“Suppliers aren’t getting enough product to ration all restaurants right now, so we’re doing our best to find the best and best quality products for our customers to keep our soup and noodles and everything consistent. “
The noodle shortage is affecting Vietnamese noodle shops and restaurants across the city.
CTV News contacted 12 separate restaurants, and all of them confirmed they were having difficulty sourcing noodles and other products traditionally imported from Southeast Asia.
As with any shortage, that means ingredient prices have skyrocketed.
“At the start of the summer, a case of noodles was around $ 40,” said Tai Trinh, who runs with her sister Pho Kim. “Now we are paying $ 60 per case. “
He says a crate of noodles contains 30 packets, and a busy Vietnamese restaurant can burn them down in just over a day.
“We’re going to grab about 10 (cases) and that should last us a week or two, but that’s about all (the vendors) are letting us take right now. “
The shortage is largely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected both manufacturing and shipping in Southeast Asia.
The booming Delta variant in Asian populations with low vaccination rates has left many factories crippled by worker shortages.
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam’s largest city and its export hub, faces severe travel restrictions and is virtually stranded.
One of the world’s busiest ports in Ningbo, China, was also partially closed for two weeks in August due to an outbreak of COVID-19.
Sam Woods of Jori Logistics says adding to the burden of the world’s biggest companies. buying most of the space available on the shipping lines, essentially excluding small importers.
“Unless you buy, you know, tens of thousands of containers of noodles a year, you’ll kind of have to pay spot market prices, which have just skyrocketed right now,” he said. Woods said. “The little one, and the medium-sized guys can’t get on the ship because everything has been taken by the bigger guys. And if he wants to get on the ship, he has to pay a premium to get on it.
Woods said a shipping container from Asia to Calgary cost around $ 2,500 at the start of last year. Right now that same container costs about $ 20,000 to ship.
“The prices keep increasing. They have stabilized a bit in recent weeks. We actually saw it crumble. But it’s like a pint of good news and a sea of bad news, ”said Woods.
Faced with these international constraints, Calgary restaurateurs find it difficult to maintain quality and prices for their customers.
“At the moment we are doing our best, but the two years have been difficult with the COVID closures,” said Sandy Trinh. “So we’re doing our best to keep the cost at the same level, but, yes, everything will have to go up eventually. “
Trinh says her restaurant has enough noodles on hand to last about a week, but isn’t sure how many will be available when she returns to her wholesaler later this week.
“Unfortunately, if they don’t get another shipment, we make what we can and find all the products we can sell. “