Heinz squeezes out new ketchup packet

Logo of a Heinz ketchup bottle displayed at a grocery store in Chicago, Ill.

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: Change can be hard, as the health care debate has shown. For a company, it can be really costly, especially one whose iconic product is a household name. Heinz is doing it anyway.

Not only is the company reducing the sodium in its ketchup and introducing a version with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup, it's also replacing those little packets that you find in cafeterias and takeout places with a new -- seriously now -- ketchup delivery vehicle, a packet they call "Dip and Squeeze."

Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman reports.


MITCHELL HARTMAN: Heinz introduced the little foil squeeze-packet at fast food restaurants in 1968.

DAVE CIESINSKI: The complaints started in 1969.

Dave Ciesinski is Heinz's VP for Ketchup.

CIESINSKI: It was too small, too hard to open, and too messy.

Ciesinski says the new plastic packet is shaped like a bottle, holds three times as much, and allows the consumer...

CIESINSKI: To dip, just like a traditional dip cup, but at the same time you can tear the top, and it allows consumers to squeeze. If they want to put it on top of, let's say, a hamburger, for example.

BRET THORN: Heinz seems to be taking a mea culpa and saying, we've been giving you a bad service, now we're going to give you a good one.

Bret Thorn is food editor at Nation's Restaurant News. He says the new packaging fits better with consumer behavior these days.

THORN: So they want to decide how much ketchup they're going to put on, and what else they want to add to their food. Sprinkling things on it and pouring things -- everybody likes that.

Ultimately, Heinz wants to boost sales to fast-food chains.

Michael Stern co-authors the "Roadfood" series. He thinks this will entice people to eat more ketchup in one venue: behind the wheel. But he anticipates some bumps in the road.

MICHAEL STERN: If I put that on my dashboard and dip a french fry into it, I like a lot of ketchup. Chances are very good the weight of the ketchup and the French fry together are going to actually yank the dip-and-squeeze container off my dashboard and onto my lap.

Next better-mousetrap on the condiment front: a dashboard holder for ketchup.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

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