Supply chain issues causing tamale shortage and price increase

Tamales at Las Palapas
Tamales at Las Palapas(KBTX's Fallon Appleton)
Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 10:23 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The Texas Christmas season is not complete without delicious tamales. But across the state and here in Central Texas supply chain issues are making it difficult and expensive for restaurants and tamale makers to get their hands on the ingredients they need.

For the Gama family, they make tamales for hundreds of people-- their customers at their family restaurant Rufi’s Cocina in Waco.

“We stopped at 80 dozen before the pandemic,” said Erick Gama who co-owns the restaurant. “That’s our max. It’s too many for us to make,” he said.

The tedious, time-intensive tamale-making process is now made even more difficult by the pandemic as supply chain issues make ingredients difficult to find.

“The difficult stuff right now are the spices,” Gama said. “Those have gone up quite a bit and that’s if you can find them. It’s really hard to find like the achiote.”

Gama said chicken tamales will likely be the most popular this holiday season as the price of pork has gone up.

“The pork went up,” he said. “It goes up and down and during tamale season it typically goes up 20-30 percent. I think it’s gone up 75 percent. From $1.30 to $1.40 and better-quality pork is going to cost you $2.25 to $2.85 a pound.”

The price hike in the stores is showing up on the menu. At Rufi’s Cocina they’ve increased the price of their tamales by a dollar.

Customers though say they are more than willing to pay a little extra for warm tamales on a Texas Christmas morning.

“These are very difficult times with inflation and supply chain but that’s why we are really taking a conscious effort to shop local, cut budget other places so we can support local businesses in our area,” said Chris Ingram who preordered 2 dozen tamales for Christmas.

Staff at Rufi’s Cocina said they order their ingredients in bulk and will continue to take pre-orders for tamales for Christmas.

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