Business & Real Estate

Canned whipped dessert toppings hard to find at some Sacramento-area stores

An industrial accident is behind a shortage of canned whipped cream this holiday season.
An industrial accident is behind a shortage of canned whipped cream this holiday season.

Some Sacramento-area residents apparently will miss out on spreading a mini mountain of whipped cream on their favorite Christmas desserts this weekend.

On Aug. 28, an explosion at an Airgas nitrous oxide facility in Florida left one man dead and the plant disabled, prompting officials to predict that there would be limited supplies of propellant available in the fall and early winter. Officials explained that the Florida facility was one of only a handful producing nitrous oxide for canned products distributed throughout North America.

In the Sacramento-area, finding cans of Reddi-wip and Cool Whip on Friday was a hit-or-miss proposition

Nitrous oxide is the propellant for aerosol toppings, including popular canned whipped cream dessert brands such as Conagra Brands’ Reddi-wip and Kraft Heinz Co.’s Cool Whip. Nitrous oxide is also known as “laughing gas,” which is used in some medical procedures.

In the Sacramento-area, finding cans of Reddi-wip and Cool Whip on Friday was a hit-or-miss proposition. Random calls to local supermarkets produced a mixed bag of results.

Reddi-wip and Cool Whip could not be had at the Raley’s at 7847 Lichen Drive in Citrus Heights. There were “some” cans available at the Safeway at 3320 Arden Way in Sacramento. The customer service operator at the Nugget Markets store at 7101 Elk Grove Blvd. in Elk Grove reported “plenty in stock.”

Chelsea Minor, a spokeswoman for West Sacramento-based Raley’s, said Friday that the limited supplies had hit the grocery chain hard: “Unfortunately, Raley’s is currently out of stock on canned whipped toppings.”

In an email, Minor encouraged customers “to buy frozen whipped toppings alternative or whip up their own with Raley’s heavy whip in the carton.”

According to multiple U.S. grocery, government and consumer sources, aerosol-propelled whipped toppings currently generate sales of between $400 million to $500 million annually.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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