For decades Girl Scouts Troops have used the sale of cookies to raise funds and teach children about entrepreneurship. This year they released a new limited-edition flavor, Raspberry Rally, a raspberry twist on their classic Thin Mint cookie. But massive shortages of the highly sought-after flavor gave these kids a painful lesson in supply and demand.
The Raspberry Rally shortage seems to be a perfect storm of unfortunate events, sprinkled with poor communication. Not only is this a new cookie, but it is offered exclusively via a new online system with shipments sent directly to customers. Gone are the days of having to track down a troop to get your fix during Girl Scouts cookie season! While Covid- 19 certainly pushed things along, Girl Scouts of the USA has been slow to move to online ordering.
This also means that the Rallies shouldn’t really be sold at the traditional booths most customers are used to. “Whenever you introduce a new way of buying a product, or a new channel to get access … that opens new [consumer] behavior,” explains Terry Esper, associate professor of logistics at the Fisher College of Business of the Ohio State University.
The ease of online ordering and the sense of urgency built in by it being a limited-edition cookie, created a much higher demand than Girl Scouts were expecting. Unfortunately, by the time they realized this there was no way to increase supplies. Most Girl Scout cookies are handled by two certified bakeries, ABC and Little Brownie Bakers.
ABC fulfilled the “seasonal plan that was communicated to councils in June 2022” for the Rallies. “We cannot produce more at this time, as we do not have unique materials and Packaging,” they explained in a FAQ. “The lead times on special flavors, colors and packaging are too long to produce in time for the remainder of this season.”
In March, Little Brownie Bakers told local chapters about a slew of issues it was facing with production. “We share the frustration that some Girl Scouts troops feel this cookie season,” a Little Brownie Bakers spokesperson told CNN. “Global supply chain issues, compounded by local labor shortages and a weather-related power outage … continue to impact production.” Issues that affected the production of other Girl Scout cookies as well.
Also, while this may be only a minor contributing factor, Rallies were one of the only cookies listed as vegan-friendly by both bakeries. Which caused vegan groups on social media to hunt for them like they are the plant-based Reese’s cups. But more vegan options does open up new markets.
No matter the causes, these shortages left Girl Scout parents and children to deal with the fallout. Scouts having to tell customers that Rallies are sold-out “is a particularly frustrating transaction,” said scout parent Betsy Everett. “When people ask for the new cookie, we tell them the situation and then they don’t want to buy anything. It’s disappointing for the girls.” [Speaking as a former Girl Scout, the way some adults speak to children over supply issues they cannot control is appalling.]
Everett is also in charge of ordering cookies for three troops in Southeastern Michigan. She was able to get a few cases of Raspberry Rallies but other families in her troop could not. “Out of our 30 scouts [across the troops], about three of them managed to order some cookies before they were gone,” she said.
Most who placed orders for Rallies via ABC had their order canceled almost immediately. “ABC’s selling platform did not immediately shut down access to customers ordering [Rallies]…Because of that time lapse, they were selling cookies that were not available.” Many parents received similar explanations from Girl Scouts USA. Including Chad Huset’s wife who tried to order the Rallies only to have her order canceled. Huset believes that there should have been clearer communication bout the situation to allow troops to react accordingly. “It comes down to communicating what’s happening, not after the fact,” he said.
We certainly hope that next Girl Scout cookie season runs smoother for everyone. If you’re just dying to try the Raspberry Rallies, some have already been seen on second had markets like eBay going for as much as $40 a box.