By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
The Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont. finalized a deal to sell its tomato processing operation to Highbury-Canco, which is expected to save about 250 jobs - about one third of the facility’s previous workforce (800 full-time employees). Heinz had announced the closure of the Leamington plant last December.
According to Heinz, the new owners will take over operating the 105-year old facility on June 27, 2014. Canco has a contract to make Heinz-branded products, including tomato juice, beans and canned pastas. The processing equipment was left for the new owners, but Canco says it may consider some upgrades.
In addition to the 250 workers that Canco has agreed to rehire, about 10 tomato growers have signed contracts with the company to provide tomatoes for the processing plant. Half of the farmers are form the Chattam-Kent region, while four are located in Leamington and one in Harrow. Under Heinz ownership, tomatoes were supplied by 43 farmers in the region.
The dollar value of the transaction was undisclosed.