Welcome to the Great Ketchup Shortage of 2021. Seriously.

Ahhh, yes. Summer arrives in the northern hemisphere in a couple of months, which for many Americans means hamburgers and French fries — and even frankfurters, if you are into that — drowned in a sea of a sweet, thick condiment of tomato goodness that evokes those days of nostalgia…

Welcome to the Great Ketchup Shortage of 2021. Seriously.

…but as state and local jurisdictions around the United States have been relaxing the restrictions which have been put into effect in order to combat the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, an odd new shortage is being reported: that — of all things — ketchup.


Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

“The pandemic has also led to many restaurants pivoting into takeout specialists, making individual ketchup packets the primary condiment currency for both national chains and mom-and-pop restaurants”, according to this article written by Jillian Straw for Plate IQ, which is a platform for the restaurant business industry and reports that a full 40 percent of clients order ketchup. “Packet prices are up 13% since January 2020, and their market share has exploded at the expense of tabletop bottles.”

Patrons of restaurants were unable to sit down and leisurely dine on their meals due to the aforementioned restrictions as a result of the pandemic — but they still wanted an escape of sorts from the mundane task of cooking for themselves while quarantined, in isolation, or sheltering in place.

“The push for delivery has had an impact on the ways restaurants place orders for ingredients with their customers”, according to the article, which contains charts and graphs to better illustrate this crisis. “One glaring difference actually appears in an ingredient most people don’t necessarily think of off the bat: Ketchup.”



Photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

Although I never really consumed copious amounts of ketchup when I was a child, I use ketchup significantly less often these days than I did years ago — so I did not know about this shortage until I stumbled onto it while searching for other information.

I prefer condiments such as mustard, hot sauce, and even steak sauce at times if a steak is not the best quality. With some exceptions, good food which is prepared correctly rarely needs some sort of a condiment to finish off the flavor profile — and if one is needed, it should be used sparingly, in my opinion.

If you are traveling, perhaps you will have better luck finding ketchup there than you would where you are based.

Until this shortage is resolved — and that should happen soon with anticipation, as manufacturers of ketchup are reportedly increasing production by approximately 25 percent — I do have a possible solution that may help you relax: if you cannot find ketchup, then use catsup instead…

All photographs ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

5 thoughts on “Welcome to the Great Ketchup Shortage of 2021. Seriously.”

  1. Tom says:

    Now we’ll have to taste our food.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      That was funny, Tom. Thank you…

      …and your comment reminded me of this article which I wrote back in September of 2017 about whether frequent fliers are contributing to the great nutrition collapse:


  2. NB_ga says:

    I will gladly grant my ketchup allotment to another. Blech.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Me too, NB_ga

      …and I just checked the number of views on this article at this moment.

      Believe it or not, it has 57 views and counting…

      1. NB_ga says:

        How apropos!

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