Ketchup Shortage Has Restaurants Scrambling Across The Country
A friend of mine once called ketchup (or, catsup) a "profoundly evil and vile concoction that should be banned from Planet Earth."
Those are some pretty big words for a guy whose hatred of all things ketchup began when he was a kid playing with his G.I. Joes. Apparently, there was a heavy battle raging between his action figures in the basement one day, and my friend decided he needed some blood-like substance to make it look like there were wounded combatants. He went with ketchup, which fit the bill for color, but when it dried the stench was so incredibly bad (and permanent) that several beloved action figures had to be thrown out by his mom.
Pretty dubious reasoning for demanding a global ban on an incredibly popular product, but that's how he felt for the remainder of his life. I'm guessing that the news of a ketchup shortage wreaking havoc in the food business from coast to coast would please him greatly.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the price of ketchup packets has gone up 13% since January of last year, and that price increase, along with the shortage of ketchup, can be tied directly to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more specifically, the health and safety guidelines set by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC, in it's guidelines for bars and restaurants, says:
Avoid using or sharing items that are reusable, such as menus, condiments, and any other food containers. Instead, use disposable or digital menus (menus viewed on cellphones), single serving condiments, and no-touch trash cans and doors.
Restaurants, finding themselves limited to carry-out only dining, began handing out single-serve packets of ketchup at a huge rate, which forced manufacturers to try to raise their levels of production. Then, when some states began to allow in-person dining, customers still had to use the ketchup packets instead of bottled ketchup, as the CDC guidelines remain in effect.
Combine all of that with more people cooking in their own kitchens (and buying ketchup for home use), and you've got all the ingredients for a shortage.
There have been shortages of flour from the great baking boom early on during quarantine when many Americans tried baking sourdough bread during the pandemic. Pepperoni was also in short supply with more people ordering pizza during stay-at-home orders. And more people consuming alcohol and buying beverages for at-home consumption led to a global shortage of aluminum cans.
If more people had ruined their action figures by using ketchup for blood, we wouldn't have this problem.