The restaurant industry in the United States has been hit with a new issue, a shocking shortage of ketchup.
According to The Wallstreet Journal, during the past year in pandemic takeout services and delivery options have created an unusually high demand for “sachets,” the technical name for the small individual ketchup packets that are often included with takeaway meals. Restaurants and workers are trying to secure supplies on the popular condiment after the massive swing in demand of the past year. “Managers are using generic versions, pouring out bulk ketchup into individual cups and hitting the aisles of Costco for substitutes,” the Journal reported.
The piece in the Wall Street Journal stated:
“The pandemic turned many sit-down restaurants into takeout specialists, making individual ketchup packets the primary condiment currency for both national chains and mom-and-pop restaurants. Packet prices are up 13% since January 2020, and their market share has exploded at the expense of tabletop bottles, according to restaurant-business platform Plate IQ.”
According to sources, the condiment is currently the most consumed table sauce at restaurants inside the United States. About 300,000 tons of ketchup was sold to food-service this past year, according to research done by the firm Euromonitor. Even more of the popular condiment is consumed in the home, and the Coronavirus Pandemic has led to the expansion of retail ketchup sales inside the U.S. to a billion-dollar industry in 2020, which is about a 15% jump from the sales numbers that were seen in 2019, according to the Euromonitor Data.
According to the Journal, in terms of market share, Kraft Heinz Co. is “ketchup’s king.” It maintains a whopping 70% of the retail market within the United States for the popular condiment. With the onset of the pandemic, however, it fell drastically behind in comparison to the demand for individual ketchup sachets. The large condiment company has already lined up the creation of two new manufacturing and production lines this month and plans to have more coming in the future. These changes forecast an increase in production rates by around 25% which brings production to around 12 billion packets produced annually.
Kraft Heinz’s president of Enhancers, Specialty and Away from Home Business Unit, Steve Cornell, has stated that restaurants just need to be patient while Heinz increases its means of production to handle the supply shortage.
“We’re busy doing everything we can.” –Steve Cornell
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released statements on the use of condiments, including the cleaning of condiment holders. The CDC guidance stated. “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.”
The Wall Street Journal reported, “Local health departments last year advised restaurants to pull shared condiment bottles off tables for sanitary purposes. Even states that have lifted all capacity restrictions on restaurants are still taking a tough stance on ketchup.”
At the start of the pandemic, Americans were met with other weird shortages, like toilet paper, in many retail locations as well. These pandemic times have affected many areas of life, and as many places start to reopen, Americans should expect the market to take time to rebound back with the various adjustments.