Heinz confirmed to USA TODAY on Tuesday that the company will expand its efforts to address an unlikely byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted restaurants and fast food chains across the United States: a ketchup packet shortage. Manufacturing lines will be increased by about 25 percent to produce more than 12 billion packets a year.
In wake of the pandemic, the CDC issued guidelines urging Americans to “avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers,” and instead, use “single serving condiments,” such as ketchup packets. The Wall Street Journal reports the price of packets have risen 13 percent since January 2020.
Even though Heinz “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,” the company still wasn’t able to meet the country’s overwhelmingly high demands, as tabletop bottles were no longer being used. In November, Heinz attempted to “further meet changing restaurant needs” with the creation of the no-touch dispenser.
Ketchup is only the beginning. Bloomberg reports the price of pepperoni has nearly doubled in some cases due to an increased demand for pizza and fewer workers at pork processing plants since they must abide by social distancing requirements. The widely-covered, and often joked about blockage of the Suez Canal could also lead to a number of shortages since about 10 percent of global trade passes through the canal. The most notable items that could soon begin to feel the crunch are toilet paper, and coffee.