Kraft could face a cheesy meltdown with Velveeta shortage

8:36 PM, Jan 7, 2014   |    comments
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(CBS NEWS) Fans of warm, cheesy dips are getting some curdling news: There's a shortage of Kraft (KRFT) Velveeta cheese. 

Some customers may not be able to find the product over the next few weeks, according to a Kraft statement sent to CBS MoneyWatch. "Any issues with availability are much more noticeable given the seasonal demand," the statement noted. "However, we have not heard from many consumers that they are having issues locating the product and we expect this to be a short term situation."

Advertising Age earlier reported shortages at some East Coast grocery stores, with one Brooklyn-area grocery noting that it wasn't expecting deliveries of the cheese until February. Kraft told AdAge that "combinations of factors" were involved, including demands on drivers. 

Some consumers expressed alarm on Twitter. "Whatever will we do for dip!" one Twitter user wrote. 

Of course, the shortage could lead to new-found demand for Velveeta. In fact, some cynics might accuse Kraft of staging a "shortage" just as the season for cheesy dips warms up. There's nothing like a scarcity to make consumers who might otherwise have turned up their noses suddenly feel nostalgic for the 86-year-old brand.

While it's unclear how widespread the shortage is, Kraft is risking losing out on sales during prime chips-and-dip season, as the NFL playoffs continue and lead up to the Feb. 2 Super Bowl.

Velveeta isn't just an icon of American food-processing ingenuity. The brand has been showing growth, according to Kraft's third-quarter earnings release. Velveeta slices -- thin slices of the cheese -- have boosted sales, while Velveeta dinner kits are continuing to win over consumers, the company said in its earnings release. 

While it's not clear if the shortage is just for classic Velveeta or if it includes spin-off products like the Velveeta dinners, some fans may view the development as welcome as a hunk of Limburger cheese at a Super Bowl party.

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