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Supply disruptions create pasty shortage

KEWEENAW COUNTY — Disruptions in supply chains have Pasty Central to suspend the making and sales of pasties, at least through the second week of April, said Charlie Hopper, general manager. The reason, he said, is not being able to receive meat from his supplier.

“It looks like we’re going to let people down,” Hopper said. “We sent out a mailing, saying that we’re on top of things, and we have our crews all up and ready to go, and now it looks like we’re going to have a shortage.”

Hopper said Pasty Central is the largest independent sellers of pasties.

“We sell pasties all over the country. We’re the biggest supplier of independent sellers of pasties, according to FedEx, because the do all the shipping for, like, Lawry’s in Marquette, and the Pasty Oven in Quinnesec. FedEx has told us by far we’re the biggest shipper. We’ve shipped over a million, and we were named No. 1 pasty in the country by USA Today, a couple of years ago.”

Hopper said most of their sales are to out-of-area customers, many of whom are downstate.

“There’s a lot of people who visit the U.P., so we send thousands down there, as well. Our big thing is the ‘snowbirds’ over the winter – Florida, California, Arizona – we have huge, huge shipping out there. In fact, we’ve looked at having an operation where we drop-shipped a big freight truck to a spot in Nevada, then we could regionally send it by ground, and save a ton of money on express, by re-packaging it at another distribution center. But right now, that’s some of the challenges that we face, and right now there’s a shortage of ingredients.”

While in Statesburough, Georgia, Hopper said he went to Walmart, and there were plenty of supplies of everything, except toilet paper. However, Monday morning, the shelves were bare.

“People have just been going out of there with cartful, and it’s panic buying.”

Hopper said the shortage of meat, a mix of beef and pork, has left him with no choice but to temporarily stop pasty production.

“We left the staff all know that we wouldn’t be baking for at least the next two to three weeks,” he said. “Probably in about three weeks, we will re-assess our suppliers.”

Hopper said a similar shortage impacted the company once before, but the shortage was not meat, but rutabagas.

“We had to end up getting rutabaga from out-of-the-area sources, because we go through so much of it.”

Pasty Central always sells out at Christmas time, but then starts ramping up inventory again through January and February, while keeping up a regular stream of deliveries. By early March the company had almost 8,000 extra pasties on hand, just before this “shelter-in-place” time began. Along with it came a deluge of online orders. By the end of the first stay-at-home week, Hopper’s reserves were exhausted, freezers almost bare. ”

Just like the recent consumer phenomenon with toilet paper,” Hopper said, “pasties have been flying off the shelves – and into FedEx trucks.”

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