Ketchup Packet Shortage?

Throughout the COVID pandemic, we’ve struggled through several problems ranging from mask shortages to sanitizer shortages and even toilet paper shortages! Unfortunately, it seems like COVID isn’t done with us yet because the worst one has been yet to come… a ketchup packet shortage! Ketchup companies such as Heinz have been unable to keep up with the increasing demand for ketchup packets. Fortunately for the majority of people, the ketchup shortage does not include ketchup bottles.

The reason for this sudden increase in demand is because normally when you go to a restaurant, they have ketchup and mustard bottles for you to use, but online deliveries and to-go orders have significantly increased in the past year. Now, fast food restaurants have to give out more packets, and regular dining restaurants that used to rely on ketchup bottles. This is causing the demand for ketchup packets to skyrocket, and Heinz, one of the biggest ketchup suppliers, is no longer able to keep up. Heinz has dominated the ketchup industry for decades, but this could be extremely bad for Heinz as this could be the perfect time for one of its competitors to strike. An event similar to this happened in 1973 when a poor tomato harvest led to insufficient product production. Heinz ended up prioritizing glass bottle ketchup over ketchup packets. This led McDonald’s, one of their biggest partners, to find several new ketchup suppliers for almost all their restaurants. McDonald’s ended up completely cutting ties with Heinz in 2013. The last ketchup shortage in 1973 caused them to lose one of their biggest companies, but they could lose even more this time. Several restaurants such as Texas Roadhouse and Long John Silvers have already begun seeking new ketchup suppliers. Other restaurants like Wendy’s also stopped serving Heinz ketchup in the past years. Not only the big restaurants are having this issue either. Many small restaurants have also been struggling to keep up with the supply of ketchup packets. 

Travis Doster, a spokesman from Texas Roadhouse said, “I’m a Heinz person, but you can’t be loyal forever.” Heinz is currently America’s preferred ketchup brand by a long shot with 70% of the total market share, but could this be Heinz’s downfall? Fortunately, this crisis will likely soon come to an end. Heinz promises to raise ketchup production by 25% and to produce 12 billion packets a year to catch up, but we’ll have to wait and see if that will be enough to supply the 300% increase in demand.