Taco Bell worked with suppliers to resolve shortages of products such as the bestseller Doritos Locos Taco. ©  Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images
Taco Bell worked with suppliers to resolve shortages of products such as the bestseller Doritos Locos Taco. © Joshua Blanchard/Getty Images

Tortillapocalypse

5 August 2019

Fast-food customers left disappointed after major US restaurant chain runs out of tortillas.

American fast-food chain Taco Bell has implied a supplier was to blame for a shortage of tortillas that left its customers unable to order key dishes at many of its restaurants over a nine-day period. The supply chain problem was popularly dubbed the “tortillapocalypse”. 

First established in California in 1962, Taco Bell offers Mexican-inspired foods, serving more than two billion customers a year. As of last year there were over 7,000 outlets across 27 different countries, the lion’s share owned and operated by independent franchisees and licensees.

Greg Creed is CEO of Taco Bell’s parent company Yum! Brands. In response to a question asked in an earnings conference call, he said he had taken up the tortilla shortage with the company’s supplier. 

“The supply issue was limited to 10-inch tortillas, so things like quesadillas and burritos [were affected],” he explained. “It had an impact, but we don't believe it was a material impact. Our objective is to make sure we don't obviously run out of core menu items going forward.”

Creed added that the supply problem wasn’t nationwide: “It wasn't across the whole system. It probably impacted us for about nine days. Did it have an impact on sales? Yes. Was it material? No. Was it clearly unacceptable to run out of the core menu item? Yes.”

On July 14 Taco Bell told media: “We have worked closely with our suppliers to resolve any shortages, and most, if not all of our impacted restaurants should be offering our full menu so fans can now enjoy their Taco Bell favourites.”

Before that it had confirmed that certain locations were dealing with “supplier shortages”. 

Last year, Kentucky Fried Chicken — which is also owned by Yum! Brands — was forced to temporarily shut down hundreds of restaurants in the UK because of a chicken shortage.

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