There’s a Shortage of Single-Serve Ketchup Packets Because People Have Been Ordering So Much Takeout

Are other condiments in danger?

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April 07, 2021


Photo by: Bloomberg/Getty


The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many people have shifted from going out to eat at their favorite restaurants to ordering in at home. And if you’ve ever ordered in takeout, you know at least two things to be true — anything tastes better if you can eat it within walking distance of your couch, and you can bet there will be a ton of condiment packets included with your food.

The latter, as it turns out, is actually creating a bit of a problem. Since so many people have been ordering in over the course of the last 13 months, restaurants are now reporting a shortage of single-serve ketchup packets, which are typically included with a variety of to-go orders. According to the Wall Street Journal, eateries have been trying to stock up on the packets since the CDC recommended to “avoid using or sharing items that are reusable such as menus, condiments and any other food containers.”

The outlet also notes that the price for individual ketchup packets has increased by 13 percent over the last year, which, coupled with the increase in takeout orders, means that chains such as Long John’s Silver and Texas Roadhouse are running low. While the pre-packaged ketchup morsels used to line the bottom of a takeout bag (before likely migrating over to a random kitchen drawer) they are currently in short supply.

Though Heinz has said it plans to increase single-serve packet production by approximately 25 percent in order to keep ketchup packets from disappearing entirely, this is hardly the first time in recent months that consumers have been warned that supplies of a food they love are dwindling.

Before ketchup, there were reports of a Grape-Nuts shortage, which sent some fans of the popular cereal into a panic. Per Bloomberg, restaurants have been experiencing higher prices from pepperoni suppliers, which has translated to a pepperoni shortage at some pizza restaurants. However, most of these shortages have sorted themselves out pretty quickly, meaning there was a whole lot of hoopla for nothing.

Still, it might not be a bad idea to stock up on some other popular condiments in case there’s another shortage in the future. If you’re a sushi fan, consider buying a bottle of soy sauce the next time you go shopping. The same thing goes for people who love hot sauce on just about anything and won’t even think of chowing down on a sandwich sans mayonnaise or mustard.

And while not all fast-food chains sell their beloved condiments at the supermarket, Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A have got you covered. Several Taco Bell sauces are on sale at Walmart and Target, and Chick-fil-A sauces are readily available on Amazon.

So stock up if you wish, and if you’re all set on the ketchup front, consider telling the restaurant not to include any with your order so the supply is protected. While you’re at it, opt out of receiving any plastic utensils, if possible, which will help cut down on plastic waste.

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