Ketchup Packet Shortage Has Restaurants Seeing Red

With more businesses offering takeout, demand for the condiment in packet form has soared.

April 07, 2021

Ketchup Serving

LOUISIVLLE, Ky.—There’s another shortage for consumers and businesses to cope with—ketchup packets, the Wall Street Journal reports. As the pandemic spurred restaurants to boost takeout options, individual ketchup containers have become even more ubiquitous for both national chains and independent restaurants, driving up demand.

The cost for ketchup packets has jumped 13% since January 2020, with the market share surpassing tabletop bottles, according to Plate IQ. Fast-food chains have been impacted by the shortage as well, with Long John Silver’s hunting for packets from other suppliers. The seafood chain said the higher price on ketchup packets cost it $500,000. “Everyone out there is grabbing for ketchup,” said Stephanie Mattingly, chief marketing officer for Long John Silver’s.

Ketchup is the most-consumed condiment in U.S. restaurants, with about 300,000 tons bought by foodservice vendors in 2020, according to Euromonitor. Even more ketchup is consumed at home, with retail ketchup sales rising above $1 billion last year in the U.S., a 15% bump over 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Kraft Heinz Co. commands close to 70% of the U.S. retail market for sachets—the industry term for packets. However, the company is playing catch-up to demand from the pandemic, with two new manufacturing lines opening this month and extra shifts at plants to up its output of single-serve packets. “We’re busy doing everything we can,” said Steve Cornell, Kraft Heinz president of enhancers, specialty and away from home business unit.