The impact will probably be felt by local councils and troops, who count on the cookie earnings to finance programming, travel, camps and other tasks. The Girl Scouts normally sell around 200 million boxes of biscuits each year, or around $800 million value.
Latham said troops inside her area sold 805,000 boxes of biscuits last year; this year, they offered just under 600,000. That shortfall implies the council may not be able to invest in infrastructure improvements at its camps or fill some staff places, '' she explained.
The council is now encouraging people to buy boxes online through its Hometown Heroes program, which distributes cookies to health care workers, firefighters and others. Additionally, it organized one-day sales with associations such as the New Mexico United soccer team, to whittle the total down further.
Parisi stated Girl Scouts of the USA did forecast lower sales this year because of the pandemic. However, coronavirus limitations were constantly changing, and the cookie orders set by its 111 neighborhood councils with bakers last fall were still overly optimistic.
By early spring, when troops usually set up booths to sell cookies in person, U.S. coronavirus instances were still near their peak. Countless girls opted to not sell cookies in person.
As a result, around 15 million boxes of cookies were left over as the cookie year wound down. The following 3 million boxes are located at the hands of their Girl Scout councils, that are scrambling to sell or donate them.
It is uncertain how much of a financial hit the Girl Scouts suffered because of the decline in sales since the organization won't show these figures. And it isn't the largest blow off the cookie program has ever faced. That likely came during World War II, when the Girl Scouts were forced to shift from selling cookies to calendars due to wartime shortages of sugar, wheat and butter.
However, the glut of biscuits has laid bare some simmering problems within the Girl Scouts' ranks. Some regional leaders say that year's slower sales should have been better called since falling membership has been threatening cookie earnings even before the pandemic began. Approximately 1.7 million girls were enrolled in Girl Scouts in 2019down nearly 30% from 2009.
"Without girls, there's no cookie program. Unfortunately, it required a global pandemic to bring all the problems to the surface," said Agenia Clark, president and CEO of Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, a neighborhood council.
Clark and a few other local leaders could avert a cookie stockpile since they calculated their own sales projections rather than relying on advice from the national office. Clark believes a brand new technology platform adopted by the Girl Scouts is not satisfactorily forecasting membership declines as well as their impact. Back in April, she sued the Girl Scouts of the USA since she does not wish for her council to be forced to use that stage.
Parisi confessed that membership dropped during the pandemic as troops fought to figure out ways to fulfill safely. But these numbers are already rebounding, she said.
You will find other reasons for the declining sales. Some regional leaders say they may have sold cookies this year but chose not to because of an Associated Press story linking child labour to the palm oil that is used to make Girl Scout cookies.
Gina Verdibello, a troop leader in Jersey City, New Jersey, said her 21-member troop, that has women ranging in age from 10 to 15, decided to boycott this year's cookie program and held a protest in their city hall. Verdibello stated she knows of at least a dozen additional troops that opted not to sell due to the palm oil issue.
"We want to sell biscuits. It's a part of the item. But this is placing kind of a damper on it," explained Verdibello, whose troop has continued to finance activities with contributions from people who heard about their boycott.
Parisi said such boycotts were not widespread. However she said the Girl Scouts are working with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a nonprofit group that places social and environmental standards for the business, to ensure farmers are meeting those standards.
In the end, local councils will not be held financially responsible for the 12 million boxes which remain at the 2 bakers. Little Brownie Bakers and ABC Bakers stated they're working with the Girl Scouts to donate or sell cookies to areas like food banks and the military. The bakers can not sell directly to grocers because that may diminish the importance of the yearly cookie sales. But they might sell to institutional buyers such as prisons.
Parisi stated bakers and councils have sometimes dealt with excess inventory before because of weather events such as ice storms or tornadoes. But this level is unprecedented.
She explained some pivots, such as the partnership with Grubhub, are probably here to remain. But girls are also excited to return to their booths next year.
"Girl Scout cookie season isn't only once you get to buy cookies," she said. "It's interacting with the women. It is Americana."