Special Report

Ketchup Brands You Should Never Buy

Ketchup shelves at a grocery store
Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.

The origins of ketchup (or catsup, if you’re feeling super sophisticated) trace back to China, but it is often seen as the quintessential American condiment. Some estimate that as many as 97% of American households have ketchup in their refrigerators and pantries (or maybe just a bunch of ketchup packets from a local fast food joint that are stuffed in a drawer). The tomato-based condiment is used on burgers, hot dogs, French fries, and chicken tenders and nuggets. Some folks also top less traditional fare with ketchup, such as scrambled eggs and macaroni and cheese. While adding ketchup to those last two foods is debatable, Americans’ love of the condiment is not up for debate.

Annual U.S. sales of ketchup are nearly twice that of mustard. The ketchup market is filled with lots of different players, each vying for your attention and, more importantly, your money. There are plenty of tasty ketchup brands available today, but there are also some that fall short of the mark. We found six ketchup brands to avoid. (And while we’re on this condiment kick, here is a list of the ten worst hot sauce brands.)

24/7 Wall St. consulted ketchup reviews on five food websites and blogs to compile this list. Deciding between ketchup brands is an inherently subjective endeavor. To make the process a bit more objective, only ketchup brands that were mentioned as subpar on at least three of the five sites were included in our list.

It’s hard to imagine a picnic or backyard barbecue without ketchup. To make your next get-together a success, we recommend choosing a ketchup other than the six brands listed below.

6. Hunt’s

Hunt's ketchup bottle
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Hunt’s received mixed reviews from taste testers.
  • Company: Conagra Brands
  • Expected Price: $1.62 (20-ounce bottle)

A Reverse Goldilocks

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Source: Depiction Images / Shutterstock.com

Some reviewers found the vinegary taste in Hunt’s a bit too strong. No one absolutely hated this ketchup, but one writer described its taste as “meh.” That seems to be the consensus across the board. Hunt’s ketchup is not bad, but you can certainly find better options.

5. Del Monte

Del Monte didn’t make the grade in our ketchup survey.
  • Company: Del Monte Foods Inc.
  • Expected Price: $1.79 (24-ounce bottle)

More of a Cream Than a Sauce

Source: psdphotography / iStock via Getty Images

Reviewers noted that Del Monte ketchup is thicker than many other brands. However, the rich flavors you would expect from such a thick ketchup just aren’t there. Some reviewers were sharper in their criticism of the ketchup, saying it tasted like tomato sauce or even cocktail sauce.

4. French’s

French's logo
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
French’s is famous for its mustard, but its ketchup? Not so much.
  • Company: McCormick & Company, Incorporated
  • Expected Price: $2.58 (20-ounce bottle)

Known for Mustard Not Ketchup!

Source: bhofack2 / iStock via Getty Images

Everyone is familiar with French’s yellow mustard. Many reviewers seem to want the French’s brand to stay in its mustardy lane. The brand’s ketchup is overly sweet, with one reviewer commenting, “[I] can feel my teeth rotting.” Some taste testers also noted the thin consistency of French’s ketchup.

3. Fody

Fody ketchup
Source: Courtesy of Mike Edmisten via 24/7 Wall St.
Fody is a ketchup for those with food sensitivities.
  • Company: Fody Food Co.
  • Expected Price: $5.99 (11-ounce bottle)

Is It Even Food?

Source: Juanmonino / E+ via Getty Images

Fody ketchup is marketed as an alternative for people with dietary issues. As such, it may be the only ketchup some folks can tolerate. However, if you do not suffer digestive distress from ketchup, you’ll want to skip this one.

One reviewer described the taste of Fody ketchup as “medicinal,” saying it conjured up “horrible memories of children’s cough syrup.” Another taste tester was a bit more gracious, saying that if you need to stay away from onion and garlic, this ketchup “gets the job done,” but also noting that it can’t possibly compare to more highly seasoned brands of ketchup.

2. Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe's storefront
Source: ablokhin / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Trader Joe’s offers many great products, but ketchup is not numbered among them.
  • Company: Trader Joe’s
  • Expected Price: $2.29 (24-ounce bottle)

Doesn’t Even Taste Like Ketchup

Sweet Dark Chocolate Sauce in a Bowl
Source: Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock.com

One reviewer said Trader Joe’s ketchup tastes like Worcestershire sauce. Not that there’s anything wrong with Worcestershire sauce, but ketchup should have a very different flavor profile.

1. Whole Foods 365

Whole Foods store
Source: anouchka / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images
Whole Foods 365 ketchup consistently ranked near or at the very bottom of the sites we surveyed.
  • Company: Whole Foods Market
  • Expected Price: $4.49 (24-ounce bottle)

Red Colored Water

Glass of very cold water with ice cubes. Isolated with clipping path
Source: cosma / Shutterstock.com

Whole Foods 365 ketchup was the clear loser in our survey. Nearly all the sites we referenced included this ketchup near the bottom of their rankings.

Reviewers said this ketchup was watery. One reviewer said it had a “strong, smokey flavor,” and an “artificial tomato taste.” Others noted the spices, specifically cloves and allspice, overpower the tomato flavor in this ketchup. Reviewers also found the grainy texture off-putting.

What About the Best Ketchup Brands?

Heinz ketchup label
Source: Thinglass / iStock Editorial via Getty Images
Heinz is the most popular ketchup brand in the U.S. and it’s not even close.

As we scoured these websites for the worst ketchup brands, we also discovered two of the most favored brands among reviewers. The first is likely no surprise: Heinz. This brand commands a 60% market share in the U.S. It was introduced in 1876 and has become America’s favorite ketchup brand by a wide margin.

Better Flavor and Fresher

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Source: Nataliya Schmidt / Shutterstock.com

The other ketchup favored among our reviewers was Sir Kensington’s. Some reviewers even ranked this lesser-known brand above Heinz, noting it is less vinegary and features a more robust blend of spices. Since it is organic and certified non-GMO, Sir Kensington’s does cost more than Heinz. Many believe the flavor is worth the higher price.

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