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Covid causes ketchup shortage across the US

Covid causes ketchup shortage across the US
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Heinz will increase its production of ketchup packets by 25 per cent, as restaurants struggle wiith ketchup shortage to supply enough condiments to customers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A shortage of ketchup has been attributed to an increased demand for takeaway and delivery food during the pandemic, as restaurants have been told to use individual packets instead of the sharing bottles they would normally have provided if they had been allowed to open as usual.

Current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise restaurants to “avoid using or sharing items that are reusable such as menus, condiments and any other food containers” and suggest using “single serving condiments”.

Now that restaurants are reopening across the country, the shortage of ketchup has come into focus, with Chris Fuselier, the owner of Denver-based Blake Street Tavern, telling The Wall Street Journal that his restaurant has “been hunting high and low” for the condiment.

Fast food restaurants are also struggling to source enough ketchup, as Long John Silver’s LLC, which owns nearly 700-units across the US, told the Journal that it is having to source the condiment through secondary sources.

Executives from Long John Silver’s said that the company has had to pay an extra $500,000 (£360,957) to provide enough single-serve packets, with chief marketing officer Stephanie Mattingly adding: “Everyone out there is grabbing for ketchup.”

The increase in demand across the spectrum of US restaurants has caused the price of ketchup to rise, as the Journal reported that the cost of packets has gone up by at least 13 per cent since January 2020.

Retail sales of ketchup also increased by 15 per cent during 2020, according to data from market research firm Euromonitor for the Journal.

In reaction to the shortage and rise in demand, Heinz, America’s most widely used ketchup brand, will increase its production of the packets by 25 per cent, bringing its total to more than 12 billion sachets per year.

The move will not be immediate however, as Heinz plans to open two new production lines in April and more in the months following in order to meet the new demand.

The company, which is 150 years old, has already started extra shifts and has cut back on production of varieties in order to put extra focus on the packets.

Steve Cornell, Kraft Heinz’s president of Enhancers, Specialty and Away from Home Business Unit, told the Journal that Heinz is “busy doing everything we can” to meet the demand.

The last 12 months has seen a shortage of several items in the US, as more citizens have cooked from home after restaurants were widely closed across the country.

There was a shortage of aluminium cans as a higher number of beers were bought for home consumption, while pepperoni became in short supply after there was an increase of people ordering takeaway pizzas.

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