Officials say Americans eat about 251 million pounds of pepperoni yearly.By Ross Guidotti

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) — When it comes to pizza toppings in the United States, pepperoni is the one and only king.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat about 251 million pounds of pepperoni yearly. But there is not enough pepperoni to go around.

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“My rep from Penn Mac said I know you’re stocked up for the weekend, but I’m going to send you extra because you’re probably going to run out,” said Rocco Pifferetti, owner of Rocco’s Pizza in Youngwood.

From grocery stores to hometown pizza shops, people are feeling the economic pepperoni pinch.

“We’re hearing it’s going to be gone again,” Pifferetti said.

Pifferetti told KDKA’s Ross Guidotti that not only is pepperoni becoming scarce, but its price has skyrocketed. In some cases, the price of pepperoni is up 25 to 50 percent.

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So what’s the problem with pepperoni? It comes down to this. The delicious little circles are made from pigs. Pigs have to go to processing plants. Processing plants are shut down right now because of the coronavirus pandemic.

If that’s not bad enough, enter provolone and mozzarella.

“Cheese, it’s a whole nother ballpark. It’s gone way up,” Pifferetti said.

Dairy producers are having problems getting milk turned into cheese for the same reason as pepperoni. High demand, low supply and limited production capacity. It is all coming at a time when more people are ordering pizza than ever before.

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So when is the great mozzarella and pepperoni plight going to come to an end? It really all comes down to getting the pandemic in check. So the reality is we’re going to be paying more for pepperoni and cheese for some time.