French’s Food Company is hoping to put the squeeze on the Canadian ketchup market after it announced a new deal to produce ketchup in Toronto with Canadian tomatoes beginning in 2017.
The company said it struck a deal with Select Food Products Ltd., a food manufacturing plant in Toronto, to bottle all French’s ketchup sold in Canadian retail stores.
“Increasing manufacturing and production in Canada is an important part of our business model,” Elliott Penner, president of French’s Food, said in a statement Thursday. “We are pleased to announce our two important partnerships with Select Food Products Ltd and Highbury Canco. They are and will continue to be outstanding partners.”
The move is part of the “French’s Promise in Canada” campaign, which it began after its competitor, Heinz, closed production in Leamington, Ont., eliminating more than 700 jobs. French’s, known for its ballpark mustard, moved in and began sourcing Leamington tomatoes for its ketchup products.
A public furor erupted in May, over what makes Canadian ketchup truly Canadian after an Orillia man, Brian Fernandez, posted on Facebook that French’s was using Ontario tomatoes.
“Since Heinz decided to pull the plug on its Canadian plant in Leamington, 740 jobs were lost. Heinz decided to make its ketchup solely in the USA. Then, French’s (known for its mustard) stepped in and decided to make ketchup,” read part of Fernandez’s post. “We bought a bottle. Absolutely love it!! Bye. Bye. Heinz.”
The result led to a rush on French’s ketchup on grocery store shelves. Loblaws also had to backtrack on a decision to remove French’s ketchup from its stores after fierce public backlash.
During the ketchup kerfuffle, some pointed that while French’s uses Leamington tomatoes, some of its ketchup is produced at an Ohio plant before being shipped back to Canada.
French’s says the new Toronto facility is expected to be up and running by early 2017. The company said the partnership will lead to more jobs and increased opportunities for Select Food Products.
“We are thrilled to partner with French’s to manufacture the highest quality ketchup for the Canadian retail market,” Select Food president Andrew Mitchell said in a news release.
“This is a win-win partnership in that French’s business will enable us to add more high-quality jobs and to help us make a positive difference in our community.”
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.