Heinz and Conagra Foods went head-to-head in the US this week when they simultaneously unveiled new inverted squeeze ketchup bottles designed to pour ketchup from the bottom.
On store shelves from July, Heinz Easy Squeeze comes in 20- and 30-ounce plastic bottles, is an ergonomically designed bottle that, the company said, gives greater control thanks to a cap featuring a patented silicone valve that directs ketchup to the intended food target. Heinz plans to support the launch with a television advertising campaign.
Heinz currently leads the $466 million (€503mn) US ketchup category with a 58 per cent share for the year ending 24 March, according to Information Resources.
Conagra's Hunts brand is the second best selling ketchup in the US with an 18.2 per cent market share. The company responded to the Heinz packaging innovation with its own Perfect Squeeze System: another upside-down bottle with a suction cap that dispenses the ketchup freely and without shaking.
Is it a coincidence that both announcements came at the same time?
With tongue in cheek, Casey Keller, managing director of Ketchup, Condiments & Sauces at Heinz, said the entry from Conagra was an "apparent attempt to play ketch-up." While Bryan Crowley, brand manager for Hunts, countered by saying that ConAgra has spent "two years creating" its product.