Image: Pumpkin farmer
Leslie Renken  /  AP
Pumpkin farmer John Ackerman walks through a neighbor's waterlogged pumpkin field Tuesday, while discussing the difficulties of this year's harvest.
updated 11/19/2009 5:59:17 PM ET 2009-11-19T22:59:17

The holidays may not be so sweet this year.

Nestle — which sells nearly all the canned pumpkin in the U.S. — says poor weather hurt its harvest, creating a potential shortage of its Libby's pumpkin pie products through the holidays.

In a statement to customers this week, Nestle said heavy rains made it nearly impossible to pick its pumpkins during this year's harvest.

The longer the pumpkins sit in the muddy fields, the more they deteriorate. As a result, Nestle said this week that it would not pack any more pumpkins this year, which means it may be hard to find its canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling product until next year's harvest.

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"Mother nature had other plans for us," the company said in an open apology to customers online.

Nestle is the largest national brand for canned pumpkin products, with 80 to 90 percent of the market, the company said.

It plants a special strain of pumpkin at a farm in Morton, Ill., which provides nearly all its products. If you turned all the pumpkins on its farm to pie, it would total 90 million pies, Nestle spokeswoman Roz O'Hearn said.

The company had a wet harvest last year, too, which meant it didn't have a surplus to carry over into this year and led to spotty shortages in late summer and early fall. The harvest started in August and it began getting products on its shelves soon after, but it won't be able to meet its normal demand.

Nestle said it has seen the popularity of pumpkin grow recently as more people have become aware of its health benefits, but Thanksgiving is the company's peak season.

Pie makers can still use fresh pumpkin or other brands.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Possible pumpkin pie panic


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