I've been thinking a lot about inefficiency. I've been thinking a lot about ketchup packets. The ubiquitous plasticized-foil sachets furnish 10 grams or approximately .4 ounces of product each. Heinz, the world's leading manufacturer, reports they alone sell 11 billion packets per year. Informal testing has yielded an average 10 percent loss rate; that is, one gram of unsqueeze-out-able, unattainable condiment per packet, unless you're one of those obsessives who use a crank to dispense their toothpaste. I speculate that real-world trials would demonstrate even greater losses, as many ketchup users are either driving, high, waving chubby fingers slicked with grease or all of the above. This doesn't account for dorm room packet hoarders or the dreaded splatter effect, acute ketchup loss resulting from a hastily opened or intentionally stomped on pouch. Ballistics data were unavailable.

Assuming my tests are reliable and Heinz's sales numbers are accurate (this is a company so devoted to ketchup it believes people will voluntarily download and display this image), consumers waste an astonishing 11,000,000 kilos or 12,125 tons of Heinz ketchup every year worldwide, to say nothing of those 11 billion landfill-bound pouches.

Apparently Heinz has been thinking likewise. The condiment king is planning nationwide roll-out of their first substantial re-think of the ketchup packet in more than 40 years. Already available in test markets in the Midwest and Southeast, the future of portable condiment delivery will be manufactured to resemble a McNugget dipping sauce container with two access points, one for squeezing and one for dipping, and contain the equivalent of three standard packets to streamline fast food consumption and reduce waste. Wholesale costs for the new design will tick up appropriately–tomato paste innovation doesn't come cheap. Expect the revelatory two-way “Dip & Squeeze” ketchup vessel to appear in junk food outlets and automobile glove boxes this fall.

LA Weekly