August 26, 2009

Heinz cuts Canadian tomato biz by a third

The H.J. Heinz Co. announced it's curtailing Canadian tomato processing by 30 percent after being arbitrated into paying farmers 30 percent more.

The move affects its 100-year-old plant in Leamington, in southwestern Ontario, the company's second largest in the world, the Windsor Star reported.

The production will be shifted to a plant in Fremont, Ohio, which will receive tomatoes from California, the company said.

Heinz Canada spokeswoman Joan Patterson said no Canadian layoffs are expected and seasonal workers are still be hired, but will work less hours.

Earlier this year, arbitrators ordered Heinz to pay Canadian farmers $122 per ton of tomatoes, up from $93.65.

The Leamington plant produces all the Heinz ketchup sold in Canada, but will no longer export the condiment to the United States, the report said.

In the province of Ontario, the processing tomato crop is worth about $60 million each year, the newspaper said.