Kraft is using its cream cheese shortage as a marketing opportunity.
For just a few days this holiday season, a limited number of people will be able to spend $20 on dessert and charge it to Kraft, owner of Philadelphia Cream Cheese. The premise: People who can't bake cheesecakes because they can't find cream cheese can get another baked good on Kraft's dime.
Here's how it works: People interested in the offer can visit a special website set up by Kraft. On December 17 and 18, up to 18,000 of them will be able to nab the right to get reimbursement for a holiday treat. They'll be able to submit receipts to the company a few weeks later.
For Kraft, the campaign is a way to soften the blow of empty cream cheese shelves -- and keep customers thinking about Philadelphia cream cheese, without souring on the brand.
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Cream cheese is the latest hard-to-come-by grocery item in a year of shortages. A spike in cream cheese demand during the pandemic has made it difficult to keep shelves stocked, Kraft said.
Last year, with more people baking and eating at home, demand for cream cheese jumped about 18% compared to 2019. It's stayed at that high level in 2021, according to Kraft. Meanwhile, restaurants are also ordering more of the product.
Junior's Cheesecake, which sources its cream cheese from Philadelphia, said last week that it has been struggling to get enough supply of the key ingredient, and it's been forced to occasionally pause cheesecake production, according to the owner. New York City bagel shops have also reportedly struggled to get enough cream cheese.
To keep up with demand, Kraft is pumping funds into its Philadelphia brand, said Basak Oguz, Philadelphia marketing director.
"We're investing millions of dollars on Philadelphia cream cheese," she told CNN Business in an email, adding that the funds will help increase production capacity.
Oguz added that the company has temporarily stopped making "a very limited number" of Philadelphia products so it can increase production of its more popular items.