“Several factors have resulted in excess capacity in Campbell’s North American thermal supply chain network, including significant productivity improvements and volume declines of canned soup in North America,” the company said Wednesday in a press release.
“Opened in 1931, Toronto is the oldest plant in the Campbell thermal network. Due to its size and age, the Toronto plant cannot be retrofit in a way that is competitively viable.”
Officials said Canadian soup and broth production will be moved to the company’s plants in North Carolina, Ohio and Texas. The company said it plans on keeping the Toronto facility, located near Islington Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard West, open for up to 18 months and that the shutdown will occur in phases.
The Toronto plant also serves as the company’s Canadian headquarters and houses its commercial operations too. The statement said the headquarters and close to 200 related jobs will move to an undetermined location in the Greater Toronto Area. It will also include a new “food innovation centre.”
The company said it will offer impacted employees severance packages and career counseling. Officials said job fairs and financial planning workshops will also be provided.
“Today is a tough day. We are committed to treating our employees with the respect and fairness they deserve. Despite this decision, Canada is important to Campbell,” Campbell Canada President Ana Dominguez said in the statement.
“We are remaining in Canada and will continue to make important contributions to the food industry in this country.”
Toronto Mayor John Tory described the announcement in a statement Wednesday afternoon as “heartbreaking.”
“The loss of any jobs in our city is tragic – that’s why we work so hard to attract businesses and jobs to Toronto,” Tory said, adding he spoke with Dominguez over the phone.
“I made it clear in my call that I believe those sites and those jobs should be located in Toronto and again offered to be involved and of assistance in that regard.”
Councillor Mark Grimes, who represents the ward where the plant is located, said the closure is a big loss for the New Toronto neighbourhood.
“Campbell’s has been a part of our community for generations, and many Lakeshore residents feel a connection to the iconic facility on Birmingham Street,” Grimes wrote in a statement, adding it’s one of the remaining large-scale manufacturing facilities in the community.
“Campbell’s has employed generations of residents in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. I personally have many close, personal friends who work at this facility. I am truly saddened to hear this news.”