Viral post showcases Leamington tomatoes

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Windsor Star/Carolyn Thompson

An Orillia man’s viral Facebook post has renewed interest in Leamington tomatoes and the devastating loss of the town’s Heinz plant — plus a new ketchup that is helping to turn things around.

Brian Fernandez was grocery shopping when he noticed a few bottles of French’s ketchup on a bottom shelf, squeezed beneath four rows of Heinz.

His family loves French’s mustard but had never heard of its ketchup.

He thought he’d do some Internet research before picking which one to buy, but the first article that came up was not what he’d expected to see: Heinz pulling out of Leamington; 740 jobs gone; plant to close.

“I didn’t even know there was a town called Leamington,” he said. He was shocked such a big company could stop using Canadian ingredients and he hadn’t heard about it.

The next day, he picked up French’s ketchup — made from tomatoes grown in Leamington and processed into tomato paste in the same plant Heinz (now Kraft Heinz) once operated.

Highbury Canco Corp. took over the plant in June 2014 and later signed a contract with French’s.

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