Are you one of “those people?” Someone who puts ketchup on their ketchup? 300 million Americans use ketchup, according to a study from last year, and therefore you either are that person or you know at least one person who puts ketchup on absolutely everything. If that is you… well, I hope you’re sitting down, because this latest supply chain shortage is going to hurt. As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, ketchup packets are in short supply and restaurants are struggling to keep up with the demand.
Managers are hunting high and low for options, often pouring out bulk ketchup into individual cups. Even big chains like Long John Silver’s and Texas Roadhouse had to seek ketchup from secondary suppliers because of the rush in demand. After enduring forced closures, staff safety concerns and start-stop openings, food service providers are now facing a nationwide ketchup shortage after the pandemic shifted many sit-down restaurants into takeout-only operations. Packet prices are up 13% since January 2020, according to restaurant-business platform Plate IQ. KraftHeinz released a statement that they invested more in manufacturing at the start of the pandemic “to keep up with the surge in demand for ketchup packets.”
After a challenging year, to say the least, there is another reason that Americans keep reaching for their favorite comfort condiment. “Ketchup is a nostalgic thing, too,” explained Kim Severson, food correspondent for the New York Times. “There is something about a French fry and ketchup that just makes everybody feel good.” Fast food is America’s worldwide brand and ketchup is our most beloved condiment by far. Ketchup lovers, my heart goes out to you. I hope you can take this blow in stride, and I implore you to remember the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020… it could always be worse!