TORONTO—The H.J. Heinz Co. of Canada Ltd. plant in Ontario that was slated for closure later this year will get a new lease on life as a co-packer for the American food processor.
The news surrounding the facility in Leamington, Ont., comes after a group of four investors—including the plant’s current manager—reached a deal with Pennsylvania-based Heinz to take over the 105-year-old plant in July.
“Initially we are going to start as a co-packer for Heinz,” said Pradeep Sood, a member of the Highbury Canco Corp. that plans to take over plant operations. “There’s a product line that they would contract with us to manufacture for them as part of our (agreement).”
According to Sood, though, the group behind Highbury plans to expand the plant’s capacity beyond working as a contract condiment manufacturer for the ketchup maker.
“We knew it had a skilled workforce, (and) we also knew there was a decent market potential for the products—what they have and what they don’t have,” he said, hinting that tomato juice is one of the products in the works that could be marketed under Highbury’s own brand.
In particular, Highbury management is taking aim at emerging markets to expand the plant’s reach beyond North America.
“We are looking at manufacturing and taking the Canadian product out to the right markets,” he said.
But first they need to make an impact at home.
“We need to get (the public) to help us ensure that everybody drinks Blood Mary (cocktails),” Sood said tongue-in-cheek.