There’s a big ketchup shortage, but that doesn’t mean what you think

Brittany A. Roston - Apr 6, 2021, 5:46pm CDT
There’s a big ketchup shortage, but that doesn’t mean what you think

Ketchup, the wonderfully acidic condiment for your favorite potato snacks, is currently in short supply — and, yes, you can blame the pandemic for this latest supply issue. However, if you’re already thinking about stocking up in hopes of enjoying your previously stockpiled potatoes throughout the rest of the year, think again. The shortage isn’t quite what you anticipate.

READ: The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a soda shortage in the US

If you head to your local grocery store, the odds are great that you’ll be able to find a bottle of ketchup to purchase. That’s because the issue is primarily impacting ketchup packets, specifically the kind you may receive with your takeout order at a restaurant.

The pandemic forced many businesses to temporarily close and, in the case of restaurants, for them to shut down their dining rooms in favor of takeout and delivery. This sudden, drastic increase in the number of people getting takeout meals rather than sit-down meals meant that demand for ketchup packets likewise skyrocketed.

After several months of this big change in how consumers enjoy their restaurant meals, many businesses are finding themselves with a chronic ketchup packet shortage — and, as a result, they’re having to go to more extreme measures like manually squeezing generic ketchup into small condiment containers included with takeout meals.

That’s according to the Wall Street Journal, which reports that ketchup packet demand compared to bottle demand has skyrocketed since January 2020, driving ketchup packet prices up an unanticipated 13-percent.

Popular ketchup brand Heinz recently told USA Today that it is ramping up production to meet the increased demand, but until then, you may have to acquire your own bottle of ketchup to enjoy with your next takeout meal.


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