Boise huckleberry business in a jam due to berry shortage

'Homemade By Dorothy' facing berry shortage
Posted at 9:31 AM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-15 20:33:04-04

BOISE, Idaho — You've heard reports about supply chain shortages affecting almost every industry. Now it's hitting one of Idaho's own - huckleberries.

The fruits are facing their own shortage and one local company could be shuttered after more than three decades in the berry business.

"Ice cream, pancakes, waffles. You can add [huckleberry] to your yogurt," said Anna Baumhoff.

Baumhoff is the owner of 'Homemade by Dorothy' the company started by her mom back in the 1980s. Now, the beloved Boise business is now in a jam.

"This is our large jam, which is our most expensive item," she said. "It retails for $12.75. In September it was $9.95."

These days, huckleberry prices are soaring, doubling in price over the past two years.

"I probably didn't raise [prices] enough, but I felt that was the ceiling," said Baumhoff.

Fruit harvests were hurt by heat and drought, with prices hitting as much as $16 per pound in some cases. Baumhoff spent last summer buying up the berries - thousands of pounds. Right now her sales are booming as customers eat up her products.

600-gallons of huckleberries were used to last throughout the year. Baumhoff went through that same 600-gallons just from June to September, a year's worth in only three months.

And it's not just a dwindling supply threatening her berry business. Like so many small businesses, she's short-staffed. COVID-19 closed some distribution centers, with packaging and glass containers taking months to arrive.

Still, Baumhoff is taking the sour with the sweet.

"I've just learned that what comes comes, and you just keep moving forward."

Baumhoff says with their current supplies they'll be okay for 2022, but by summer 2023 they will need to reassess.