You are not alone. The ketchup shortage began to appear across the country last summer, and the plot has thickened. How did this happen? It started with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraging traditional dinner service at restaurants and suggesting more pandemic-friendly options, such as home delivery and takeout.
Suddenly, coast-to-coast restaurants were packing entrees, side dishes, and cold drinks for a constant stream of people working from home and passing by in their cars. Those customers were expecting condiments. So those traditional restaurants were in direct competition with fast food places, which had also closed their dining rooms and increased their orders for packages of tomato sauce.
Demand and prices went up, supply went down.
Heinz, the nation’s largest ketchup producer, is at the epicenter of the problem and is taking steps to address it. Just a few days ago, the company announced “a 25% increase in production, totaling 12 billion packages of ketchup … per year.”
“We made strategic investments in manufacturing at the beginning of the pandemic to keep up with the increase in demand for ketchup packages driven by expedited delivery and takeout trends; at the same time, we also accelerated packaging and cooking focused on future innovations as well as further expansion of manufacturing plans, “said Steve Cornell, president of Kraft Heinz Breeders, specialty and out-of-home business unit.
That’s a long way of saying that the ketchup giant doesn’t want anyone to go empty when looking for a little flavor as the pandemic wears off.
He’s committed to keeping up with the demand for ketchup, stocking as much as he can. With a smile, he says, “I’m going to order now. I’m not kidding. I’m a hundred days old.”