Will This Be The Year There Was No Pumpkin?

Poor weather affects harvest; likely to be less pumpkin available this holiday

Nov 17, 2009, 13:19 ET from Nestle USA

SOLON, Ohio, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Nestle Baking today announced that it expects a shortage of LIBBY'S® Pumpkin on store shelves as the country enters the holiday season. Heavy rains persisted throughout the 13-week harvest in Morton, Illinois, frustrating efforts to pick the entire crop. As a result, less pumpkin has been picked and canned, leading to an anticipated shortage of LIBBY'S pumpkin products as the holidays approach.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20091117/SF12746)

"We know that LIBBY'S Pumpkin, with the LIBBY'S Famous Pumpkin Pie Recipe on the label, plays an important role in the traditional holiday meal," said Paul Bakus, Vice President/General Manager, Nestle Baking. "Libby's has been a part of that tradition for more than 80 years and we appreciate that honor. That's why we wanted to alert bakers to the anticipated shortage. Our calculations indicate that we may deplete our inventory of canned LIBBY'S pumpkin as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday."

The company plants thousands of acres of farmland with LIBBY'S Select seed in the spring. In fact, Nestle added acreage this season since the 2008 harvest also had been diminished by poor weather.

Harvest generally begins in late August and continues until all the pumpkins are picked. This year, heavy rains saturated the pumpkin fields, making it nearly impossible for tractors and other equipment to operate. Nestle agricultural experts evaluate crop conditions throughout the season and monitor the quality of the fruit during harvest. Currently, acres of pumpkins sit unharvested in Morton, the "pumpkin capital of the world". The longer the pumpkins sit in these muddy fields, the more likely it is the quality of the pumpkin has declined. Officials have determined that pumpkin which fails to meet Nestle's quality standards will be plowed under, once the fields dry, to enrich the soil for the 2010 season.

As a result of the weather and the company's commitment to picking and packing only quality fruit, the 2009 inventory of canned pumpkin will be smaller than planned. Nestle is continuing to ship the last of the already canned inventory. When it is gone, there will be no more pumpkin available until the 2010 harvest. This is why the company believes a shortage of LIBBY'S pumpkin is likely.

"If only we could have changed the weather!" said Bakus. "We hope Mother Nature is nicer to us next year, hopefully delivering less rain and more sunshine. If you are unable to find Libby's 100 percent Pure Pumpkin at your local grocers, we apologize and hope you will understand."

To try and help bakers who may be disappointed by the shortage, Bakus is encouraging bakers to visit www.VeryBestBaking.com, where they'll find new recipes added to the pie collection.

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About Nestle USA

Named one of "America's Most Admired Food Companies" in Fortune magazine for the twelfth consecutive year, Nestle USA provides quality brands and products that bring flavor to life every day. From nutritious meals with Lean Cuisine® to baking traditions with Nestle® Toll House®, Nestle USA makes delicious, convenient, and nutritious food and beverage products that enrich the very experience of life itself. That's what "Nestle. Good Food, Good Life" is all about. Well-known Nestle brands include: Nestle® Toll House®, Nestle® Nesquik®, Nestle® Coffee-mate®, Stouffer's®, Lean Cuisine®, HOT POCKETS® and LEAN POCKETS® brand sandwiches, Nescafe®, Nescafe® Taster's Choice®, NESTLE® Juicy Juice®, Buitoni®, DREYER'S/EDY'S®, Nestle® Crunch®, Nestle® Butterfinger®, and Wonka®. Nestle USA, with 2008 sales of $10 billion, is part of Nestle S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland -- the world's largest food company with a commitment to Nutrition, Health & Wellness -- with 2008 sales of $101 billion. For product news and information, visit http://Nestleusa.com or NestleNewsroom.com.

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