A Girl Scout Cookie Shortage Is Leaving Many Fans Cookie-less

Production delays, supply issues, and power outages at a Girl Scout cookie production facility have caused a Girl Scout cookie shortage.

By Kari Apted | Published

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The Girl Scouts of the USA are frustrated with lagging cookie sales as their primary baker has failed to keep up with demand. Little Brownie Bakers (LBB) is the organization’s primary baking partner and has cited supply issues, production delays, and power outages as reasons for the Girl Scout Cookie shortage. LBB is owned by Italian confection giant Ferrero, which makes the popular Ferrero Rocher chocolate and hazelnut candies.

LBB notified the Girl Scouts on Monday that the weather had knocked out power at their Louisville, Kentucky factory over the weekend of March 5. CNBC was able to obtain an email from an unnamed person familiar with the matter who said that LBB has explained various production problems to the Girl Scouts since January. Girl Scout executives then relayed to local troop leaders their disappointment that their baking partners—specifically LBB—have created the Girl Scout Cookie shortage by not being “more ahead of demand.”

However, according to a person who cannot speak about the matter publicly, this is the third year in a row that LBB has failed to produce enough of the fan-favorite caramel and coconut Samoas cookie. The company cites mechanical issues as the reason behind the Samoas Girl Scout Cookie shortage. An unnamed Ferrero representative told CNBC that LBB has shipped over 84 million packages to Girl Scout troops and has produced more cookies for them than it did last year.

The Ferrero spokesperson also told CNBC that their bakery teams have been working overtime to correct the Girl Scout Cookie shortage. “Global supply chain issues, local labor shortages, and even unforeseen severe weather have all impacted the selling season, but Little Brownie Bakers is on track to fulfill initial orders,” they said. The company did not specify the steps they are taking to correct the production problems that have interfered thus far.

“We are extremely disappointed that LBB is again having challenges with managing their production,” a Girl Scouts spokesperson told CNBC. “We will address these issues with our baker partner in the future and we are keeping all options open to do right by our girls.” The famous cookies normally sell for $5 or $6 per box, but the Girl Scout Cookie shortage woes have caused some flavors, including the new Raspberry Rally, to sell online for up to $35 per box.

The Girl Scout Cookie shortage is particularly impactful because it’s the organization’s primary fundraiser and the sales season is short. Although Girl Scout Cookie sales season can fall anytime between January and April, local timeframes will vary and are often limited to a two-month window. It’s the biggest entrepreneurial training ground for girls and has a sales force of 3.2 million.

So far, the Girl Scout Cookie shortage has left many troops unable to meet their cookie-selling goals this year. About 75% of Girl Scout troops receive their cookies from LBB. The other 25% receive their cookie inventory from ABC Bakers, a smaller company that has reportedly not had the same production problems as LBB.  

Girl Scout Cookie sales are big business, bringing in over $800 million annually, a massive increase from its humble beginnings in Oklahoma. In 1917, about five years after the organization began, one troop decided to sell homemade cookies to buy handkerchiefs for soldiers serving in World War I. Word of the fundraising spread and in 1922, The American Girl magazine published a recipe for sugar cookies for troops to sell and raise money for their activities.

By 1936, the Girl Scouts of the USA began making deals with commercial bakeries to produce Girl Scout Cookies in mass quantities. New flavors have been added over time, and 2023 added Raspberry Rally to the lineup, an option only available online. Thin Mints is the top-selling Girl Scout Cookie, accounting for about 25% of all annual sales.