Not even the iconic Girl Scout cookie is immune from the supply shortages that have hit every part of the U.S. economy, from grocery supplies to small businesses, during the COVID-19 pandemic — though a Girl Scout official in Utah says the state has nothing to fear, yet.
Some of the more than 100 councils that oversee the Girl Scout movement across the country reported early shortages of the newest cookie flavor: Adventurefuls, billed as “brownie-inspired cookie with caramel-flavored creme and a hint of sea salt.”
According to a statement on the Girl Scouts of the USA’s website, Little Brownie Bakers — one of the two companies licensed to make the famous cookies — was hit with “supply chain and labor disruptions” that “caused a nationwide shortage in the production of the Adventurefuls cookie.” GSUSA announced in early January that it would cut off the in-person delivery option for Adventurefuls, but added that “we do not anticipate any other varieties to be impacted by this shortage.”
Callie Birdsall-Chambers, chief marketing officer of the Girl Scouts of Utah, said that while the Utah council has been told the ‘Adventureful’ is “really popular,” they aren’t “hugely concerned” about the shortage.
Utah, Birdsall-Chambers said, starts its cookie sales later than other parts of the country. “Some councils have been selling for a month or two, and then they might not get their restock on the Adventurefuls ‘til the middle of February or March. But with us, that doesn’t fully affect our timeline.”
Utahns “tend to veer towards chocolate cookies,” Birdsall-Chambers said. Early data, based on sales for the first 17 days of January, showed the chocolate-wrapped Thin Mints accounting for 30% of orders in Utah, followed by the chocolate-and-coconut Samoas at 24%, the peanut butter/chocolate Tagalongs at 12%, and Adventurefuls at 11%.
The Utah council, she said, “orders inventory for the season with our forecast that we based on historical demand for new flavors.”
Since girls are still out selling cookies, the bakers are prioritizing their orders. “The bakers don’t want to sell out before the girls can fulfill the orders they took from their neighbors,” Birdsall-Chambers said.
Starting in mid-February, the Cookie Finder tool on the GSUSA’s website will launch a new feature, allowing cookie enthusiasts to search for local troops by zip code. People can now use the Cookie Finder to find booths through which girls will sell cookies; the booths will run March 11-27.
For now, it’s too early to say if they’ll see shortages in any particular cookie. “[The bakers] are working furiously to make sure we can keep up with demand, but we’re no different than any other company in the world when it comes to supply and demand,” Birdsall-Chambers said.
This is the third season of selling cookies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while some Girl Scouts are still going door-to-door with COVID safety protocols, the digital cookie platform (originally launched in 2014) has ushered in a new era of cookie selling and learning. Some 80% of Girl Scouts in Utah use the platform.
The platform helps teach girls e-commerce skills — such as building their own websites, marketing themselves digitally and via email, selling techniques, and calculating inventory to determine which varieties they need to reorder and which need better marketing, according to Birdsall-Chambers
Alexia Leininger, who is 7 years old, has been a Girl Scout for three years. One of her troop leaders is her mother, Shannon Leininger, who said she met her best friend 30 years ago through her own troop.
As a parent, Leininger said she thinks the digital cookie platform is “fantastic” and that it hasn’t changed the tradition of selling cookies that much.
“We have taken fliers that have her QR code around door-to-door and it’s easier now. We don’t have to leave the card there if someone doesn’t answer the door — we can leave a flyer on their doorstep and they can still order cookies even if they’re not there.”
While Leininger runs the digital marketing aspect, she said all the ideas for the content come from Alexia — such as making videos to tell people to order her favorite cookie, Samoas.
Being a part of Girl Scouts, her mother said, has helped Alexia gain confidence, learn how to ride horses, approach people and build her math skills.
Birdsall-Chambers says learning new skills from the platform, and from continuing to sell during the pandemic, has helped the girls “learn new skills to stay relevant. … It’s really quite fascinating to watch [the girls] grow.”