Could Texas BBQ Be in Peril Due to Major Supply Chain Issues?
There are very few things that capture the spirit of Texas so whole-heartedly like BBQ. The whole operation from the Texas-raised beef, chicken, and pork on the pit, to the Texas-grown wood in the fire box, is pure Lone Star State. Sure, other states have (inferior) BBQ traditions of their own, but Texans take it as a very important point of pride.
A Critical Shortage in Texas is Making it Hard For Pit-Masters to Produce Quality BBQ
Unfortunately for fans of mouth-watering Texas BBQ, there is a looming threat to all that we find delicious. While the shipping crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of frustration for businesses in general, this particular issue is really a Texas BBQ only problem. Namely, pit-masters across the state are having a hard time getting wood.
Unreliable "Wood Guys" and High Prices Are Making the BBQ Game Much Tougher in Texas
The real issue is that there really is no organized and reliable way to get the specific woods BBQ joints need to smoke their meats. According to the report from KUT, the process usually involves a "wood guy." This is an individual (not a business) that finds, cuts, and sells hardwoods like Mesquite, Hickory, and Pecan to local restaurants for use in their smokers. These sort of arrangements usually don't last long, which means a good restaurant must constantly search for their next wood "hook-up." There are a few larger and more reliable operations, but the prices are usually much higher - and with restaurants already operating on very slim profit margins, that's not a very attractive option.
An Increased Demand for BBQ is Making the Texas Hard Wood Issue Even Worse
The incredible expansion of BBQ restaurants in Texas has pushed this constant inconvenience into the realm of real crisis. Some BBQ joints in the Lone Star State are paying up to 160% of what they used to pay - and that number is climbing. Hutchins Barbecue in McKinney is reporting that a cord of wood they used to pay $400 for has now risen to $640. On top of that, demand for delicious Texas-style BBQ is on the rise as the restaurant is now burning through approximately $25,000 worth of hard wood a month.
However this shakes out, it's a sure bet that the prices on Texas BBQ will going up in the very near future.