UPDATE, July 12, 2019: Taco Bell has resolved its tortilla shortage, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. It didn't indicate how many restaurants were impacted, but customers trying to order online from select restaurants in New York City, Philadelphia, Louisville, Kentucky and Nashville were told that various tortilla-based menu items were not available.
- Several Taco Bell restaurants are limiting their menus as they are running out of 10-inch tortillas, according to Newsweek.
- The shortage is related to a supplier issue, and the chain told PEOPLE that it is working on restoring the supply.
- "While some Taco Bell restaurants are experiencing supplier shortages, we are working diligently to replenish the supply of our tortillas (used for products like quesadillas and burritos) in those restaurants and encourage fans to try any of our other delicious menu items like the Power Menu Bowl or Cheesy Gordita Crunch in the meantime," Taco Bell said in a statement emailed to Restaurant Dive "We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause and appreciate our customers’ patience."
For a chain with such a strong fan base as Taco Bell, a shortage could have repercussions to its reputation, especially if the issue isn't resolved quickly. Many customers have already shared their frustrations about the shortage via Twitter, according to PEOPLE. The chain has yet to reveal the extent of the shortage and when it will be resolved too. Some locations in Alabama have reported shortages and there are indications that it also hit Atlanta, Georgia, according to Newsweek.
Supply shortages tend to be uncommon, but when they do happen, restaurants are left scrambling. Burger King and Wendy’s dealt with a shortage of tomatoes in 2010 following a cold snap that impacted Florida's crop. During this shortage, Subway switched to a different kind of tomato and Wendy's added tomatoes by request only. McDonald's dealt with a temporary shortage of chicken and hamburgers in China during 2014 after it switched suppliers telling customers to order fish sandwiches instead. Last year's romaine recall, which took romaine off the menu for several days, led to restaurants substituting other leafy greens or curtailing serving certain romaine-heavy salads altogether.
Restaurants, including White Castle and Red Robin, are struggling to keep up with demand for Impossible Burgers (as is the manufacturer), which has led to many turning toward Beyond Meat instead.
Considering half of Taco Bell's menu uses tortillas, the chain will need to fix its issues quickly, especially if the problem is widespread. The longer the shortage continues, the more it will impact the bottom line of Yum Brand's top-performing chain.