A Canadian Factory Is Working 24/7 to Keep Kraft Mac & Cheese on Store Shelves
Kraft Dinner, as it's called in Canada, may as well be the country's official food.
In their eternally catchy early-1990s song "If I Had $1000000," Barenaked Ladies' co-frontmen Steven Page and Ed Robertson named all the things that they'd buy if, you know, they had a million bucks. Because you know all of the words, you know that their list includes a house, furniture for that house, a Picasso painting, a llama or an emu, and John Merrick's entire skeleton. They also say that, if their bank accounts suddenly had a few extra zeroes, they wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner—but they would anyway.
Kraft Dinner—or Kraft Mac & Cheese, as it's called in the United States—has been referred to as Canada's unofficial national dish. According to Global News, Canadians buy 1.7 million of the 7 million boxes of Kraft Dinner that are sold every week around the world, and the country's annual per-capita Kraft consumption is 55 percent higher than that of Americans.
Because of the importance of Kraft Dinner to Canadians (and the fact that it's a shelf-stable grocery choice during this global pandemic) one Kraft Heinz factory in Montreal is now literally working 24/7 to ensure that there's enough of it to meet the significantly increased demand. CTV News reports that, in the weeks before the coronavirus outbreak, the factory produced around 3 million boxes of Kraft Dinner during a five-day workweek. Now, it's more like 4 million boxes per week.
“Everyone just feels very, very proud to be feeding 37 million Canadians,” plant manager Danielle Nguyen told the outlet. “Those 960 employees show up to work every day. To me, they are true heroes.”
The Montreal factory is responsible for producing 90 percent of Kraft Heinz products for the Canadian market. A spokesperson for the company said that sales of Kraft Dinner have increased by 35 percent, demand for peanut butter has jumped by 41 percent, and there have also been "double-digit spikes" for pasta sauce, baked beans, and baby food.
Nguyen told the Financial Post that the factory is capable of making 400 boxes of Kraft Dinner every minute of every day, and that she has "Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, [and] Plan D" to ensure that its production can keep supermarket shelves stocked with those blue and yellow boxes. (Plan A is to keep the plant running 24/7, Plan B is to train workers who make less-essential products how to make Kraft Dinner, Plan C involves putting mechanics in charge of mac-n-cheese production, and Plan D means that managers like Nguyen would run the line and pack boxes if they had to.)
So far during the month of March, more than 7 million boxes of Kraft Dinner have been sold in Canada, which is more than twice the amount that was sold during the first two months of the year. "It’s humming off the shelf,” Michael Graydon, the head of Food and Consumer Products of Canada, said.
And thanks to Nguyen and the 960 workers who are doing everything they can, literally every single day, Canadians can still eat Kraft Dinner—even without one million dollars in the bank.