Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Nov 14, 2013 04:56 PM

Heinz is closing its plant in Leamington

I was sorry to see this news. I've always had a soft spot for Leamington and its residents - both permanent and temporary. If I'm heading that way on the 401, I sometimes make a detour for some Mexican food in town.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Time was, lots of young Québécois were among the migrant workers there. This is dreadful - that is tomato town.

      1. I wonder if it means we will be stuck with US made Heinz ketchup that's full of high fructose corn syrup.

        19 Replies
        1. re: mrsleny

          Yes, mrsleny.

          Look for possible changes as well in A1 Sauce, Diana Sauce, HP Sauce, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce, Catelli, and saddest of all - baked beans. All Heinz products from Leamington.

          Renée's sauces are also made by Heinz but they may possibly be out of their St. Mary's plant which is being retained.

          Heinz is also into private labels for the major chains.

          1. re: DockPotato

            Well there's no longer a reason to buy Heinz ketchup. The only other brand I can see sticking with is L&P, which I buy every 3 years or so....

            1. re: DockPotato

              So this means no more Heinz ketchup or baked beans made in Canada?? Period?? Is this accurate?

              If so, maybe we should stock up now?

              1. re: magic

                Period. Accurate. As of June 2014, Magic.

                The ketchup I will miss on the very few times I have a hot dog.

                The beans and tomato juice, along with their A1, HP and Worcestershire Sauces are another matter.

                1. re: DockPotato


                  Looks like I better stock up.

                  How many years do these products last on shelves? Guesses, anyone?

                  1. re: magic

                    For reasons unknown to me, Canadians prefer sweeter ketchup than Americans, and the Heinz plant there modified their formula accordingly.

                  2. re: DockPotato

                    Will this affect their Chili Sauce?

                    I imagine it would. Would it disappear? Is it produced in the US?

                    1. re: DockPotato

                      Holy cow... My Worcestershire sauce! I hate the US version. Ugh I guess I'll be trying the PC version and see how it is.

                      Thank you for the breads up. I find the US ingredients losing on the bottles really scary. They may not be more sweeter but they're far more artificial

                  3. re: DockPotato

                    Thanks for the info DockPotato! This is sad news.

                    It's time to find new ketchup source ... any recommendations?

                    1. re: mrsleny

                      I don't have a clue either. I'm on the same Heinz boat as the rest of you. Whenever I visit Leamington I usually stock up by the case at the Heinz employee outlet through family.

                      I know that there are are several independent processors in Essex Kent - some even do contract for Heinz. But I don't know what they produce at all. Stokely, Aylmer and Hunts are long ago absorbed and God knows where their product is from now.

                      I know that I'll be looking at labels for "Made in Canada" or "Made in USA".

                      1. re: DockPotato

                        I like E D Smith, though it's a bit hard to find in the GTA.

                    2. re: DockPotato

                      I just came back from grocery shopping and I checked the Worcester sauce. They're made in England and not Canada. Maybe I don't need to stock up on that one.

                      1. re: Nevy

                        Interesting. Mine is product of U.S.A. which doesn't mean anything since it came from the employee store. I tend not to use much of that.

                        However I also checked my HP Sauce and it is made in Canada.

                        1. re: Nevy

                          The larger bottles are made in England, and shipped here. The small bottles are packaged in Leamington. It comes in as barrels of 4x concentrate from England and is diluted and bottled

                          1. re: idave321

                            Ah... so as long as I buy the big bottles, I'm ok and not having the horrible US ingredient list.


                            1. re: idave321

                              You obviously know what's what idave321.

                              I take it you're referring to the Worcestershire Sauce. What about the HP? Is that made here or done from concentrate as well?

                              1. re: DockPotato

                                HP is made is Leamington, from scratch ... it's one of the more complex products to cook, many spices and flavourings

                        2. re: mrsleny

                          Until Heinz/Mr.Buffet shuts down the US production. I would think Heinz will outsource its ketchup production from the US as soon as it is in their economic interest.

                          1. re: prima

                            Tomato harvest lasts for a only few weeks in late summer/early fall. Some is used immediately in various product recipes but the rest is reduced to paste which is stored in large vats for use throughout the year until the following season. Beans, cereals and other dry goods can last the year as is.

                            There is a year's supply of ingredients to carry them through to their next season and I expect that the bulk of that will be processed here in Canada.

                            After that - well it's anyone's guess.

                        3. Thanks to new owner Warren Buffet that's a loss of 1/2 of Ontario's annual tomato market. Maybe now Ontario legalizes "grass" so the Essex county farmers have a high demand replacement crop and the Liberals get a new tax source.

                          Have you comparison tasted Hunts or PC ketchups lately? To me both have a superior tomato flavour.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: iamafoodie

                            Oh I'm sure they're great products, but I grew up with Heinz on my table, so it looks like if I want to avoid that garbage put in their US ketchup, I gotta stock up on Heinz products.

                            Terrible news for those who lost their jobs and the tomato industry in Ontario. Probably welcome news for manufacturers of farm equipment for non-tomato agriculture.

                            1. re: magic

                              I hope some more greenhouse operations set up shop in Leamington instead, so we can source more Cdn-grown produce instead of relying on imports for close to 9 months of the year.

                              1. re: prima

                                I don't know if you're familiar with the area, prima, but the amount of acreage under glass is mind boggling.

                                The problem hot houses face is water. Because of the requirements of hydroponics, operations must draw from the municipal supply which is at its limit. They can't use groundwater because of high iron content and other naturally occurring minerals such as sulphur.

                                1. re: DockPotato

                                  I haven't been recently, but I seek out Leamington hot house tomatoes and cukes over Mexican and American hot house tomatoes throughout the year. It would be great if a fresh herb business could operate from Leamington. Seems ridiculous (but cheap, I guess) to import fresh herbs from South America, which is where most of Loblaw's packaged fresh herbs seem to originate.

                                  Wasn't aware of the water issues. Thanks for the info. ;-)

                            2. re: iamafoodie

                              I am not saying this because I am a big fan of Warren Buffett, but because I know how he operates (and have even met the man). The closing of the plant is not 'thanks to Warren Buffet'. He maintains a very strict hands off policy with the companies he buys except for getting involved in the hiring and firing of the CEO (more hiring than firing). He invests in management, not in meddling in their operations or strategy. He doesn't even sit on the boards of the companies he invests in.

                              1. re: Flexitarian

                                Buffet is only supplying some of the capital for the buy out. The company will be run by a Brazilian food conglomerate that has already fired all the Heinz top management. The future of the company is very uncertain.

                                1. re: Flexitarian

                                  This is true, Buffet is hands off, the decision to end Canadian production came from 3G Capital. Those calling for a boycott of Buffet's brands should instead focus on 3G Capital

                              2. It's a sad, sad day in SW-Ontario.