TORONTO—An executive with H.J. Heinz Co. has confirmed to CanadianManufacturing.com that the ketchup maker plans to shutter three North American plants, including one in southwestern Ontario.
Michael Mullen, senior vice-president of corporate and government affairs with Heinz, confirmed via email that the company will close its plants in Pocatello, Idaho, Florence, S.C., and Leamington, Ont., affecting a combined 1,350 employees.
“After an extensive review of our company’s North American supply chain footprint, capabilities and capacity utilization, Heinz is announcing the closure of three manufacturing facilities in North America,” Mullen said in the email.
The closures will happen in stages over the next six to eight months.
Production from the plants will shift to other Heinz facilities in the United States and Canada, according to Mullen.
The plant in Leamington, Ont., near Windsor, employs approximately 740 people.
“Our decision to consolidate manufacturing across North America is a critical step in our plan to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible to become more competitive in a challenging environment, and to accelerate the company’s future growth,” Mullen said.
While no details were provided, Mullen said the company will add 470 employees across five existing factories in Ohio, Iowa, California and Canada in the coming months.
Once this consolidation is complete, Heinz will employ approximately 6,800 hourly and salaried workers at sites across Canada and the U.S.
According to Mullen, Heinz plans to offer severance benefits, outplacement services and other support to help affected employees pursue new job opportunities.
“We reached this decision after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options,” Mullen said. “Heinz fully appreciates and regrets the impact our decision will have on employees and the communities in which these factories are located.”
Pittsburgh-based Heinz was acquired by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway and an investment fund affiliated with 3G Capital in February for $23-billion.
The plant in Leamington has been operational since 1909.