He is not alone. Ketchup shortages began to appear across the country last summer, and the plot thickened. How did it happen? It started with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraging the traditional on-site catering service at restaurants and instead suggesting more pandemic-friendly options like delivery and take-out.
Suddenly, restaurants coast to coast were packing main courses, side dishes and cold drinks for a constant series of people working from home whirling around in their cars. These customers were expecting condiments. These traditional restaurants therefore jumped into direct competition with fast food establishments, which had also closed their dining rooms and increased their orders of ketchup packages.
Demand and prices have gone up, the supply has gone down.
Heinz, the country’s largest ketchup producer, is at the epicenter of the problem and is taking action to address it. Just days ago, the company announced “a 25% increase in production, totaling 12 billion packets of ketchup … per year.”
“We made strategic investments in manufacturing at the onset of the pandemic to address the surge in demand for ketchup packets, driven by accelerated delivery and take-out trends; at the same time, we also accelerated forward-looking packaging and culinary products. innovations, as well as the continued expansion of manufacturing plans, ”said Steve Cornell, president of Kraft Heinz’s enhancers, specialty and away from home business unit.
That’s a long way of saying that the ketchup giant doesn’t want anyone to come in empty looking for some flavor as the pandemic wears off.
He agrees to follow the demand for ketchup, stocking as much as he can. Laughing, he said, “I’m going to order now. No kidding. I have a hundred days.”