Call it a tempest in a Crock-Pot.
A report Tuesday that Kraft Foods may be running short on Velveeta cheese just as the nation enters prime Super Bowl party queso-dip-making time had Twitter fans warning of a “cheesepocalypse.”
The supposed shortage could spill over into Omaha-based ConAgra Foods' plans to market its Ro-Tel diced tomatoes, a key ingredient in a queso recipe co-marketed by Kraft and ConAgra in a rare collaboration between competitors.
Ro-Tel brand director Jonathan Schaefer said ConAgra is aware of the potential shortage and is working with Kraft on the issue.
But ConAgra didn't comment Tuesday on whether the concern could mean fewer sales, if the Velveeta shortage is widespread, or more sales, if the panic sends people to the stores in droves to pick up Ro-Tel along with what they fear could be the last box of the yellow cheese product.
The trade publication Ad Age first reported the issue Tuesday, mentioning the ConAgra partnership and quoting an employee at a New York grocery store who didn't expect Velveeta shipments again until February due to “a plant issue.”
Kraft representative Jody Moore didn't give any reasons for the apparent shortage, saying only that shortages happen from time to time given the “nature of manufacturing.”
She noted that the lack of availability is more noticeable because of the seasonal demand during the National Football League playoffs. The company has been airing TV commercials featuring a recipe for a chili con queso dip made with Velveeta.
ConAgra and Kraft this fall drove an RV called the “Quesobago” to college football games in an effort to introduce the dip, a Southern and Midwestern staple, to a wider audience. The campaign includes coupons and a sweepstakes in which the winner gets a Super Bowl game day visit from the Quesobago.
Moore said the shortage should be a short-term situation and that Kraft hasn't yet heard from customers having problems finding the product.
“It is possible consumers in any part of the country may not be able to find some Velveeta products,” Moore said.
This report includes material from the Associated Press.
Artist's rendering of Starkville if there is a protracted Velveeta shortage pic.twitter.com/2iTS0jHVFO— EveryMStateTweetEver (@EMsStTE) January 7, 2014
Twinkies.. now Velveeta shortage!!! Noooooo http://t.co/CilDAy9MRr— Ben Prozinski (@benprozinski) January 7, 2014