Ketchup shortage has Heinz increasing production

First, it was toilet paper and cleaning products. Now there’s a new shortage that may really hit close to home: ketchup.

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But don’t worry, it’s not affecting the bottles that are tucked away safely in the fridge.

Instead, it’s hitting restaurants, which cannot find enough ketchup packets.

Restaurants are going to great lengths to make sure there’s ketchup available to dip your fries into.

Some are going from Heinz to generic brands, while others are buying in bulk and dispensing the red tomato condiment in individual cups, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The coronavirus pandemic is partially to blame as areas went into lockdown and hungry patrons had to switch to ordering to-go meals, meaning that as the tabletop ketchup bottle went unused for months, packets of ketchup flew out the door.

When in-person dining reopened, some businesses swapped out the bottles for single-serve packets to abide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The CDC advises: “Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers. Instead, use disposable or digital menus (menus viewed on cellphones), single-serving condiments, and no-touch trash cans and doors.”

Not only are packets hard to come by, when found, the single-serve portions cost more than bulk supplies.

Long John Silver’s said it’s paying half a million dollars more for ketchup packets this year because of the limited availability, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Kraft Heinz, the owner of the main supply of ketchup, comprising 70% of the market, said it wasn’t ready for the rush.

It is opening two new manufacturing lines to catch up with the demand, increasing production by 25% to produce more than 12 billion packets this year.

It is also running more shifts and cutting back on other products to focus on supplying ketchup packets, The Wall Street Journal reported.