Starbucks stores are already stocking up on pumpkin sauce with PSL season fast approaching as supply issues linger

Starbucks stores are already stocking up on pumpkin sauce with PSL season fast approaching as supply issues linger
·3 min read
Starbucks pumpkin spice sauce
Starbucks typically launches pumpkin spice in late summer. Mary Meisenzahl/Insider
  • Some Starbucks workers say pumpkin spice ingredients are already rolling into stores.

  • The drinks won't be available until the official launch, which workers say is August 24.

  • One analyst said its smart to stock up now on pumpkin ingredients.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Starbucks has started stocking its stores with pumpkin sauce, the key ingredient in some of its most popular fall beverages, five baristas in four US states told Insider.

The Pumpkin Spice Latte, affectionately called PSL by fans, has launched earlier and earlier each season, according to an analysis by Insider's Kate Taylor. Last year was its earliest launch date on August 25, two Tuesdays before Labor Day. The early launch was partially prompted by the stress and uncertainty of 2020, which hasn't let up in 2021 with the spread of the Delta variant and reintroduction of mask requirements in some stores.

This year's fall menu will debut on August 24, according to workers and an internal document viewed by Insider. Three Starbucks employees said pumpkin spice beverages are among the menu items that will launch that day.

All Starbucks workers spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

"We got four cases, so hopefully we won't run out in a few weeks," said a barista in the Northeast, referring to cases of pumpkin sauce.

Starbucks declined to comment on the preparations or release date for its fall menu.

A barista in Oregon said shipments of pumpkin sauce have started to arrive in the store where she works but said it isn't unusual for popular seasonal ingredients to arrive early.

"We can't touch it until launch day, though," she told Insider.

"We have our pumpkin, and tons of it," one Pennsylvania barista said. Another employee, also in Pennsylvania, shared that her store has more pumpkin sauce than all of the other syrups combined.

The fall lineup will also include a new Apple Crisp Macchiato, according to a document viewed by Insider. Three baristas said that their stores also have apple cinnamon syrup, which will be used in the new drink.

One expert praised Starbucks for stocking its stores now with pumpkin sauce, at a time when many restaurants are struggling with supply chain issues.

"It's a smart move to make sure they have as much as they can of their most popular seasonal drinks," Kalinowski Equity Research CEO Mark Kalinowski told Insider.

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Starbucks has faced some recent supply chain issues and shortages. In June, the coffee chain put 25 ingredients on "temporary hold" due to supply chain issues, according to an internal company update viewed by Insider. The list of items and ingredients includes popular items like hazelnut syrup, toffee nut syrup, chai tea bags, green iced tea, and other products.

Starbucks has previously said ongoing product shortages are localized and not nationwide.

"We are experiencing temporary supply shortages of some of our products. Specific items will vary by market and store, and some stores will experience outages of various items at the same time. We apologize for the inconvenience, and are working quickly and closely with our supply chain vendors to restock items as soon as possible," a spokesperson previously told Insider in a phone call.

Reported shortages have extended to oat milk, cups, baked goods, and other items that vary by market.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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