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macaroni & cheese boxes
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
A golden opportunity?
PLAYING KETCHUP

Coronavirus has led to Kraft Heinz’s first good news in years

Natasha Frost
Member exclusive by Natasha Frost

Time and time again, the analysis was the same: Newly health-conscious Americans, with their penchant for sourdough and gojuchang, had grown too sophisticated for Kraft Heinz and its stable of packaged products. In turn, the company, which makes everything from Cool Whip to Shake ‘n Bake, has struggled. Shares had slumped; credit raters downgraded the company to junk; sales grew ever more sluggish.

But enter coronavirus, and a nation in need of the comfort of a high-sodium, high-fat culinary hug, and Kraft Heinz is enjoying its first sales bump in years, with expected 3% growth in the first quarter of 2020. The company, of which about a third has been owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway since 2015, has reduced production at plants specializing in restaurant supplies, but increased shifts at others to account for rising demand for macaroni-and-cheese and other packaged foods, its CEO said last week. The stock jumped 3.8% yesterday (April 7).

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