Ketchup is the next COVID-19-related shortage.
Not the bottled variety as much as the small individual packages restaurants give with pickup, takeout and delivery orders.
And it’s hitting America’s most popular brand, Heinz, with shortages at chains like Long John Silver’s and Texas Roadhouse, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Kraft Heinz confirmed to USA TODAY on Tuesday that it is working to increase supplies, such as adding manufacturing lines that will increase production by about 25% for a total of more than 12 billion packets a year.
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The blockage of the Suez Canal by a skyscraper-sized cargo ship could also cause snarls in the global supply chain, resulting in shortages of products such as toilet paper, coffee and furniture in the U.S.
Steve Cornell, Kraft Heinz’s president of Enhancers, Specialty and Away from Home Business Unit, said in a statement to USA TODAY that the company “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.”
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Another reason for the shortage is restaurants are using the packets when consumers are dining in, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for restaurants.
“Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers,” the CDC said. “Instead, use disposable or digital menus (menus viewed on cellphones), single serving condiments, and no-touch trash cans and doors.”
The prices of the packets are up 13% since January 2020, the Journal reported, noting the packets’ market share grew at the expense of tabletop bottles, according to restaurant-business platform Plate IQ.
Kraft Heinz said that when overall restaurant demand plunged at the start of the pandemic, it saw the shift to takeout and delivery and pivoted to prioritize production of products. It also said it scaled back on less popular varieties and added extra product shifts, but demand was still greater than supply.
In November, Heinz also added a new no-touch dispenser “to further meet changing restaurant needs.”
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Contributing: Morgan Hines and Paul Davidson, USA TODAY
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko