Story at a glance

  • The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on supply chains across the globe.
  • Now, the shortages are starting to affect ketchup, especially in the form of individual packets.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that restaurants and bars, which are trying to survive the pandemic through takeout orders, are struggling to find enough supply.

There's a ketchup shortage in America, reported the Wall Street Journal, and you'd be surprised at the lengths people will go to for the table condiment. 

The ketchup supply chain, which includes the movement and storage of raw materials, work-in-process inventory and finished goods, is one of many that has been disturbed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has caused production delays and backlogs in shipping. 

Since restaurants and bars were forced to shut their dining rooms and pivot to takeout and delivery orders, demand for individual packets of ketchup and other condiments skyrocketed. In July 2020, CNN reported that sales of single-serve condiments had increased up to 40 percent compared to 2019, raising concerns about the environmental consequences of this increase in waste. 


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Now, prices are up by 13 percent, and some businesses are getting creative, buying in bulk and finding new ways to package individual servings. But, many customers remain loyal to the ketchup king: Heinz. A Heinz representative told The Wall Street Journal it plans to increase production by 25 percent this month to put out packets at a rate of more than 12 billion a year. 

“The unmatched consumer love for our iconic HEINZ brand as well as our longstanding partnership with the restaurant industry are two responsibilities we take very seriously – which was why we made strategic manufacturing investments at the start of the pandemic to keep up with the surge in demand for ketchup packets driven by the accelerated delivery and take-out trends," Steve Cornell, Kraft Heinz’s president of Enhancers, Specialty and Away from Home Business Unit, told TODAY in an email statement.  


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Published on Apr 06, 2021