Restaurateurs face mayo shortage, price hikes

Restaurateurs say they have been adapting to a month-long mayonnaise shortage by paying more for the condiment or choosing less popular brands as they await the arrival of a cargo ship this weekend.

Without access to their preferred Kraft or Best Foods brands, owners of Miah’s Taste, a small fish and chips shop in Fugalei, are instead serving a Banquet Light Mayonnaise with their fish and chips.

But the difference in taste has not been lost on their customers.

“We had one customer come in and she didn’t like this mayonnaise. She wouldn’t eat it. She told me to go and buy the other mayonnaise,” said Tapaau Sione Lilomaiava who owns and operates Miah’s Taste in Fugalei with her husband Fana Lilomaiava.

“The mayonnaise shortage is causing a big problem for us. We have another food outlet, a sefe at the Savalalo Market and they serve potato salad. 

“For us, it’s especially hard for our sefe. We normally purchase the large jar that costs about $40 tala. The price was $38 something but right now it is more than $45 tala. 

“That is the price right now during this shortage…it’s been four weeks since the shortage. It has been a while. We found the large jar at a Chinese-owned store in Vaimoso. We found it but it was $45 tala.”

Left without any options, they opted for a small jar of the Banquet brand mayo, something she says has only been an “okay” substitute.

“It has increased our expenses. It is so hard to find mayonnaise right now and it is adding to our expenses because stores have increased the cost. When we do find mayonnaise, the prices have been hiked way up. The price of the large jar has gone up by $10 tala,” said Tapaau, whose husband does all the shopping for the restaurant. 

“He has had to travel as far as Aleisa to find it.

“There is also a chicken shortage so the wholesaler says the ship will arrive with chicken on Saturday. So hopefully that shipment arrives with mayonnaise. It has been four weeks.” 

Celine Pereira, who owns Ray-Nim’s Fast Food in Lepea, which sells numerous servings of $5 tala fish and chips daily has now made mayonnaise optional.

“For us, we sell a $5 tala meal and it does not come with mayonnaise because mayonnaise is expensive. I need to keep costs in mind when preparing the meals so we can keep the sales going. Now since the mayonnaise shortage began, we cut the mayonnaise from the meals,” said Pereira.

“If one customer wants mayonnaise then we have to give it to every single customer. So we are putting tomato sauce in our meals and the mayonnaise we have made it optional. It’s $1 for the little container of mayonnaise.”

Ray-Nim’s has reserved two cases of mayonnaise on the incoming ship. 

“Whenever the cargo ship arrives, we already have our two boxes of mayonnaise set on the side. We use Best Foods from Ah Liki and Kraft from Frankie’s. There are four large jars in each box and we go for the big one because we get a bigger profit,” said Pereira.

“One case, or box, lasts about two weeks. We have been told there is a shortage and we have to wait for the next ship which arrives on Sunday. So once the little $1 tala containers we have here are gone, that’s it. We will be out of mayonnaise.”

Anna Brown, the owner of Kilo’s Ice Cream Shack, a restaurant in Apia specialising in American-style hamburgers and cheeseburgers – which call for mayonnaise more often than not – said she is down to her last case and may resort to blending her own.

Mayonnaise is easy to make according to the internationally renowned multi-Michelin starred chef Gordon Ramsay.

In a popular YouTube video he explains that all it is composed of is emulsified egg yolks and granola oil.

Ingredients are: three egg yolks, a teaspoon of English mustard and 300 ml of granola oil. If there is no blender available, a whisk will do the trick, Ramsay explains. 

After the eggs and mustard are mixed, oil is slowly mixed in. Mix eggs and oil to desired consistency - add salt, pepper and lemon juice and blend in the seasoning in one quick go. The chef says that 30 seconds of mayonnaise making are crucial. Any seasoning is saved until the very end of the process, in order to preserve the egg yolks.

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