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Don’t panic, but there’s a nationwide ketchup shortage

U.S. restaurants are scrambling to source Heinz ketchup packets.

Morgan Olsen

The ongoing pandemic has come with many not-so-fun surprises, and there's a new kicker this week: The country is currently experiencing a ketchup shortage. Now, before you rush to the grocery store to stock up on a bottle (or five), it's important to note that it's actually ketchup packets that are in high demand, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

And when you think about it, it makes total sense. When restaurants were forced to close their doors last year, many turned to takeout and delivery. They no longer had much use for those communal ketchup bottles that graced every table (in fact, the CDC warned against it). Instead, they turned to the individual packaged stuff to accompany carryout orders.

Due to that enormous new demand, The Wall Street Journal reports that the price of ketchup packets has risen 13 percent since January 2020. The condiment shortage is affecting small independent restaurants as well as fast food chains, including Long John Silver's and Texas Roadhouse.

Unsurprisingly, ketchup supplier extraordinaire Kraft Heinz has been rocked particularly hard by the shortage and is working overtime to increase production by about 25 percent, according to USA TODAY. In the meantime, some restaurants are turning to generic brands or packaging their own stuff in plastic containers.

It's not the only shortage we've experienced over the past year: The demand for flour, pepperoni and aluminum cans have all exceeded the supply as we've experimented with sourdough bread, ordered all the pizza, and stocked up on beer.

On second thought, you might want to head to the store and grab a bottle of the red stuff for safe keeping. You wouldn't want to find yourself in a french fry emergency at the tail end of a pandemic.

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