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Is Velveeta Using Scare Tactics to Drum Up Business? [READERS POLL]

Ack! A shortage of Velveeta!
(Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Kraft Foods, makers of Velveeta products, has announced that there may be a Velveeta shortage for the next couple of months. This has led the Internet and consumers to freak out, with some calling it the Cheeseocalypse. Is news of the shortage real, or is it a scare tactic to drum up business in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl?

Before turning to the Internet for answers, I went to a grocery store here in Wichita Falls to see the shortage first-hand.

I was able to pick up a 32oz. brick of Velveeta, which I did, or I could have chosen the 2% milk option in two different sizes. Interestingly, I don’t even buy Velveeta on a regular basis or even for the Super Bowl, but I wanted to ensure I had the product just in case.

After returning home I started looking up news about the shortage to gain more insight into the issue. A USA Today article notes that Kraft Foods says they haven’t received many complaints about the shortage at this time. Regardless of the low complaints, the Internet is blowing up. NBC News reports that it’s not a stunt, but an issue with changing plants this past summer to “increase efficiency.” It doesn’t seem efficient, however, to make those changes and then face a shortage for several months. The NBC News article discussed memos that were sent out in October and December which stated:

One of the memos, dated early October, said the 8 oz. Velveeta loaf would be unavailable October 10th through December 28th, 2013, and have limited availability December 29th, 2013 through January 11th, 2014.

Another memo from December detailed limited availability for 16 oz. varieties until February 23rd, 2014. The memos were provided on the condition that the sources not be named.

Indeed, when I visited a grocery store here in Wichita Falls I was met with only one size of the “original” product, though I can’t speak for other stores in the area and their size availability.

So it would seem the shortage is in fact legitimate, but is the timing convenient since the Super Bowl is their busiest time of year? Surely it’s not convenient for Kraft Foods to be down product, but if consumers really want Velveeta then they’ll throw down $5.99 for the larger size.

Additionally, if these memos were made public back in October and again in December, why are we just now hearing about it? Could I have known sooner if I were on the Kraft Foods newsletter mailing list? And, if they made the announcement in their newsletter, did those people receiving it stay hush-hush over the past few months in an effort to hoard their own stock of cheesy loafs?

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