Unexpected shortages have popped up during the pandemic like toilet paper shortages, bicycle shortages, and even computer chip shortages. But perhaps the most dumbfounding shortage is ketchup shortages. No restaurant owner ever imagined having a hard time finding ketchup. “Absolutely,” the Denver restaurateur, Chris Fuselier says. “In hindsight, if you’d have asked me eighteen months ago would I have concerns about ketchup shortages, I would have said ‘Are you crazy?'” Now, ketchup shortages have become a nightmare to many restaurant owners around the country.
So how did ketchup shortages happen? The Center for Disease Control has given pandemic guidelines was the main cause for this. Because they discouraged dine-in service at restaurants and suggested takeout instead, The guidelines shifted ketchup packaging from the big bottles to the miniature packages. Restaurants were packing more takeouts, which resulted in them shutting down their dining rooms and consistently ordering more ketchup packets. With the roll of customers who expected condiments, restaurants needed to be loaded with ketchup. After a while, almost every restaurant has been stashing ketchup packets for their customers. According to CNN, “Heinz, the biggest ketchup producer in the country, is at the epicenter of the problem and taking steps to address it. Just days ago, the company announced ‘a 25% increase in production, totaling 12 billion ketchup packets…a year.’” Steve Cornell, the president of Kraft Heinz’s enhancers said, “We made strategic manufacturing investments at the start of the pandemic to keep up with the surge in demand for ketchup packets driven by the accelerated delivery and take-out trends; at the same time, we also fast-tracked future-focused culinary and packaging innovations, as well as further manufacturing expansion plans.”
This unexpected ketchup shortage has kept many restaurants on their toes. Many including a Colorado restauranter named Fuselier are determined to keep up with the ketchup demand. He admits that he does this by stocking as many packets as he can for backup use. Fuselier says, “I’m going to order now. No kidding. I’ve got a hundred days.” It seems like ketchup is going to have to catch up and keep up to today’s restaurants’ demands.