PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Inflation, supply chain issues, and the cost of packaging materials are all challenges Portlandia Foods has faced over the last three years as it produced Portland Ketchup during the pandemic. 

Now that the pandemic is easing its impact on the market, the company’s CEO Rian Hanneman said some of the hindrances are persisting and new issues have arisen. 

He explained that during the pandemic, the demand for his company’s ketchup slowed down significantly after restaurants closed. When restaurants reopened, the orders came in quickly, forcing his business to try to keep up. 

“It became this clog,” Hanneman said. “I felt that every industry that comes into the condiment industry or the food industry is affected by that stop-and-start mechanism that’s on a global scale.” 

Larger companies like Kraft Heinz Co., which according to a report cited by the Wall Street Journal in 2021 held nearly 70% of the U.S. retail market for ketchup, has had an extremely difficult time keeping up with the changes in recent years. 

First, it was supply chain issues. When restaurants switched to take-out menus during the pandemic, the Wall Street Journal reported that demand for single-serving ketchup packets spiked and at times there weren’t enough to go around. 

In October, CNN reported that those supply chain issues are still plaguing Heinz and the company is also battling inflation and a U.S. tomato shortage.  

America may be headed for a ketchup crisis, but Hanneman from Portlandia Foods said his company has managed to keep its head above water. 

“We are still here. Post-pandemic, or at least in this period that we’re in now, I think everybody is trying to figure out how to manage forward, because it’s not just the ketchup industry, it’s all across the board,” he said. 

He thinks some of the supply chain challenges larger ketchup manufacturers face have created opportunities for Portland Ketchup. He said if there’s ever a void with a major supplier, a customer is going to look for an alternative. That’s when he hopes they’ll choose Portland Ketchup as a backup. 

When asked if his company has experienced any difficulty as a result of tomato shortages, like Heinz has, Hanneman said so far they’re in a good spot. He said tomato supply is a conversation that comes up every year, but their suppliers up and down the West Coast have been able to provide what the small company needs. 

Part of Portlandia Foods’ mission is to “nourish the world with delicious foods at affordable prices,” but the affordable prices become harder to sustain in times when inflation is high. 

Still, the company tries to set its prices so that families can afford the products and so that restaurant owners can still serve Portland Ketchup free of charge to their customers. 

Sometimes, the company is willing to make sacrifices if it means maintaining the product’s price. 

“We’re looking at the value to the consumer and if that means making it another couple years where it’s harder for us, then that’s what it is,” he said. 

Unlike larger companies that might need to answer to major investors, Hanneman said Portlandia Foods focuses more on how to keep its fans happy. After all, he said the company credits its fans for helping it survive the pandemic. 

“It speaks volumes… that a small company in Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest made it through [the pandemic] with that fan base. We’re eternally grateful,” he said. 

Even in the face of its challenges, Portlandia Foods is eying ways to expand. Hanneman said the company is looking for opportunities to market Portland Ketchup down the West Coast and is even having conversations about selling the product in other countries.