During the 2008 Passover season, kosher-for-Passover margarine in the United States was short in supply due to several issues, leading to a scramble among kosher consumers to obtain the staple since it features prominently in many Passover recipes.
One was the shortage of cottonseed oil, the main ingredient in the product. Cottonseed oil is used in lieu of corn or soybean oil, the traditional bases for margarine, which are not permitted to Ashkenazi Jews during Passover due to the laws of kitniyot. Cottonseed oil is a byproduct of cotton; because of the demand for corn-based ethanol, many farmers dropped their cotton crops in favor of more lucrative corn. Additionally, some of the previous manufacturers of Passover margarine discontinued producing the product after deciding it was not economically feasible. The process of cleansing a margarine plant to make it suitable for producing kosher-for-Passover margarine is complicated, and involves dismantling much of the equipment.
Some of the previous manufacturers felt it was no longer practical to undergo these procedures for a short-term project. Manischewitz and Mother's, two of the largest kosher margarine brands, were only able to provide limited amounts to the marketplace, which were often not in the popular stick form.