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Ketchup shortages hit U.S. following bump in takeout orders during the pandemic

Prices for the condiment have increased by 13 percent since early 2020

Photo (c) Chanon Tamtad EyeEm - Getty Images
There’s a certain segment of the U.S. population with “that drawer” in their refrigerator. It’s the one that’s filled with individual packages of mayo, mustard, duck sauce, and other condiments they’ve hoarded from takeout orders. 

Well, those people may need to start rationing the ketchup they’ve collected because they may not get more packets anytime soon. The Wall Street Journal reports that the U.S. is currently facing a nationwide ketchup shortage due to a supply chain issue. 

The shortage stems from many sit-down restaurants adopting a takeout format during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep business going. This sharply increased demand for individual ketchup packets to go with food orders.

Prices rise as demand spikes

How much could those seemingly inconsequential ketchup packets cost? This depends on the scale of your business. 

The Journal cites the restaurant chain Long John Silver’s as an example of one company that’s really feeling the squeeze. The chain has been forced to work with secondary suppliers because of increased demand, and executives say they’ve spent an extra half-million dollars due to inflated prices. Overall, ketchup packet prices have reportedly grown by 13% since January 2020. 

Consumers have already had to deal with several other food-related shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last spring, a nationwide meat shortage led many shoppers to consider meat alternatives. The surge in takeout business also led to a pepperoni shortage among the nation’s pizza restaurants during the fall. 

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