Friday, November 15, 2013

Heinz closing ketchup plant

H.J. Heinz Co. is closing its ketchup plant at Leamington, throwing 740 people out of work.

It’s 46 contract growers will learn Dec. 1 whether Heinz will continue to buy from them and haul their tomatoes to the closest plant in the U.S.

The plant has been using tomatoes grown on about 5,500 acres, making it the prime market among all fresh vegetable crops grown by farmers in the Leamington area.

The company says it is closing three ketchup plants to improve efficiency and because it has excess capacity.

The company was bought in June by investor Warren Buffett”s company, Berkshire Hathaway, in partnership with Brazil's richest man, Jorge Paulo Lemann, and his private equity firm 3G. 

They paid $23 billion and now are trimming costs so they can pay down the $12.5-billion debt they took on in the deal.

The closure at Leamington will be phased in over six to eight months. 
Two other plants are closing, including one at Pittsburg, ending jobs for more than 1,350 employees.

In the past, Heinz has boasted that its ketchup sold in Canada is grown in Canada and that the Leamington plant is the second-largest in the world.