Quick Take:

Kitchen Witch Bone Broth, a Santa Cruz-based phenomenon, now must close due to the COVID-driven worldwide glass shortage.

After eight years, Kitchen Witch Bone Broth is simmering down.

The Santa Cruz-based company announced Wednesday that it will stop production of its organic bone broths and soups at the beginning of June due to an ongoing international glass shortage that has made it increasingly difficult for it to package and distribute its products.

The healthful ethos extended to its packaging. Kitchen Witch has exclusively distributed its products in glass jars, a neutral and reusable material that, unlike plastic, does not leak toxins into foods. “For health reasons and environmental reasons we have always been in glass,” co-founder Magalí Brecke said.

However, ongoing issues with glass production in the international supply chain — yes, COVID plays a big part here — have caused a glass shortage that is rippling throughout the food world.

Brecke said that while Kitchen Witch is discontinuing its broths and its Gut Reset cleanse, the company will remain open and could reappear in a new form at some point in the future. While Brecke says she is personally ready to close this chapter, she is saddened that Kitchen Witch’s high-quality products won’t be available for those who need them. A longtime wellness advocate and nutritionist, she believes there is no equivalent now on the market.

Kitchen Witch Bone Broth became a phenomenon that won wide distribution quickly at grocery stores throughout the West Coast, including at Whole Foods and New Leaf Community Markets.

Kitchen Witch Bone Broth broke ground in the wellness industry when founders Rhiannon Henry, Missy Woolstenhulme and Brecke launched its nutritionally dense line of broths in 2015. Kitchen Witch marketed its products as protein- and collagen-packed superfoods to help combat issues relating to digestion and to build strength while recovering from illness or pregnancy. A few years later, the company launched its popular Gut Reset, a five-day regimen of hearty soups and broths meant to give the digestive system a “break from the norm,” teaching people how to improve health issues through food. Signups for its monthly Gut Resets frequently sold out.

Hundreds of customers have reached out to Brecke over the years to share how Kitchen Witch’s chicken, beef, fish and vegetable broths and soups have had a positive impact on their lives

Starting in 2020, the Kitchen Witch team was unable to find for long periods of time the wide-mouth canning jars it normally uses. Eventually, the company decided to switch to a smaller jar, but then struggled with increases in the price of glass, which rose to two or three times its pre-pandemic price. When Kitchen Witch could find glass, it was often disappointed with the quality.

“We have been in a really tough place paying much higher rates for lesser-quality glass with very unpredictable access,” Brecke said. At the same time, the cost of food, shipping and labor also increased. After two years, it became impossible for the small company to make it work unless it was willing to compromise on the quality of its product or the packaging materials, which Brecke says she and her colleagues are unwilling to do.

Is canned broth an option? No, says Brecke, because all aluminum cans are lined with plastic.

The experience has caused Brecke to take a deeper look at how she consumes glass. “Glass is a very energy-intensive material. It’s neutral on the body, but production of glass is really quite intense and we offload that energy consumption and pollution to third-world countries,” she said. “Even the recycling process is incredibly energy intensive and polluting.”

One solution is for consumers to use less glass and to reuse their glass when possible. Brecke said is working to create programs through Kitchen Witch that will help people make its products in their own homes — no packaging necessary.

Place orders while supplies last at kitchenwitchbroth.com or by email at info@kitchenwitchbroth.com.

Lily Belli is the food and drink correspondent at Lookout Santa Cruz. Over the past 15 years since she made Santa Cruz her home, Lily has fallen deeply in love with its rich food culture, vibrant agriculture...