A shortage of America’s favorite pizza topping is causing worry for operators of small pizza restaurants.

The next time you order a pepperoni pizza, it might cost you a little more money. Supply and demand issues for pork products like pepperoni are causing big problems in the pizza world. The shortages are impacting small pizza restaurants more, with some operators paying as much as double for the spicy topping.

The reasons behind the shortage are two-fold: First, the pandemic has accelerated the demand for foods like pizza, a quick and easy dinner that can be picked up or delivered with minimal contact. And second, coronavirus outbreaks in pork processing plants across the country have resulted in reduced production of pork.

Pepperoni is a type of salami made with pork and beef and seasoned with chili pepper. Sweet pepper paprika gives it that familiar red color. Because making pepperoni is a labor-intensive process, producers have opted out, resulting in smaller amounts being made. Large pizza chains haven’t felt the pain because they typically have long-term contracts for the ingredients they purchase. 

Pizza slices

 Photo by Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels

Pizza has been a bright spot in the restaurant landscape during the pandemic. Because pizza chains focus on delivery and pickup, they were already equipped to handle business in a contactless environment. Customers can place an order online, pay, and wait for the pizza to be placed on their doorstep. Domino’s recently announced it would be hiring an additional 20,000 workers this year.

While it’s doubtful pepperoni will disappear from menus, restaurants may have to pass the price increase on to the consumer. It’s just another problem restaurants have faced during the pandemic—from closed dining rooms to shortages of food and takeout packaging. If pepperoni does disappear from the menu you can replace it with ham, vegan pepperoni, and that other pork topping—bacon!

What do you think? Have you seen any impact of the pepperoni shortage in your daily life? What's your favorite pizza topping?  Tell us in the comments!