Sunday, February 28, 2016

Adios, Heinz. Don't Let the Door Hit You... Well, You Know

Ode to a company town. Leamington, Ontario. Former home of Heinz Canada until HJH began shutting down its Canadian operations. Finally it closed down completely, letting the remaining 740 employees go.

French's knew a good thing. They got into the tomato ketchup business. They're using all those tomatoes grown in the Leamington area. Best of all it's free of preservatives, free of artificial flavours and free of high fructose corn syrup.

It's ketchup - for Canadians.


Toby said...

We need more of that. The question is, will Canadians start buying Canadian made products?

Anonymous said...

There are several things that strike me about the Heinz situation.

The first is the march to global processed food hegemony by 3G Capital of Brazil. They now own or partly own all the major beer companies worldwide (Anheuser Busch, Coors, Miller, Stella Artois, all Labatt holdings and on and on). They bought Kraft and Heinz, and through BurgerKing, our very own Timmies. Cadbury was part of Mondelez, which is 3G. This company focuses on saving pennies let alone dollars.

The second is that US Heinz ketchup we now get here in Canada is made from tomato paste, bulk produced in California. A fresh tomato has no place in its production other than the indirect. I kept some Canadian ketchup and no it doesn't taste the same.

Third, we also get US heinz baked beans, another bland replacement

I shall try French's ketchup. Some other company also produces tomato juice using some of the old Heinz facilities. Heinz Beanz UK which produces billions of cans per year that will eventually be glopped onto cold toast has not been affected. It is the largest baked bean factory in the world and covers acres. Note, the British style beans made in the US in a regular can is laughably different from the British variety, available only in pull-top cans. I guess even 3G knows a cash cow when it sees it.

There endeth the sermon for today.


The Mound of Sound said...

Let me add a bit of context to your observations, BM. My mother's family had a couple of farms outside of Leamington. They grew tomatoes for Heinz. One of her brothers worked in the plant and retired a foreman. Another drove Heinz trucks and retired the head of their shipping operation. Like so many people in their area they were a truly "Heinz family." Fortunately they were retired from the Heinz payroll before the gradual layoffs began.

Canadian Heinz ketchup was always different than the product produced to the American recipe. Ours wasn't as sugary and it had more flavour. Once Leamington was shut down and the American stuff replaced it on our shelves the taste difference was, to some at least, unmistakable and not for the better either.

Heinz tomato juice was also amazing. We grew up on the stuff. The company had an outlet at the plant where employees could buy the products at ridiculously cheap prices.

I can't wait until French's ketchup arrives in our stores here on the island. I will be stocking up.

If you can, please let me know who is making tomato juice in Leamington.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I wasn't clear that the Canadian Heinz tomato ketchup was indeed better in my view. Indeed, it seems I didn't even supply a clear implication! Nevertheless, I wouldn't have felt compelled to mention it as a point in my rant unless I felt that way. Storing up on the old Canadian products, which you could tell from the printed codes on the bottle/can allowed such minor hoarding. LA means, well you can guess.

At the time of the announcement of the closing, I was incensed that 3G/Berkshire Hathaway would close the plant, but that is 3G's trajectory that I had been following for some time. Drain every penny from every operating cost, work their employees like dogs and to hell with the resultant product. The decimation of Tim's Head Office staff is documented and easily found by Google. BurgerKing, purveyor of processed cardboard into dreadful "french fries" at about the same time, moved its HO to Canada to avoid higher US corporate taxes.

The juice operation was purchased by a group called Highbury Canco, and under a licensing agreement is still labelled Heinz, I believe. My diet prevents me from consuming vast quantities of salt-laced product. Canadian tomato juice cannot legally be made from paste. One more reason to avoid international trade agreements! I list two links, both from Financial Post (oh no not PostMedia - argh!) that help to explain:

Nobody saved the beans, though. Darn.


Dana said...

Good pork and beans aren't that complicated to make though. And you get to decide how they taste and how much salt they have in them.

Anonymous said...

And on numerous occasions I have made baked beans, although I was never a fan of pork in them - it adds favour with salt. Despite these attempts, I would say, and my sister-in-law backs me up and is my opinion a great cook, consistency of the final product varies batch by batch. Oh sure, they taste good, but I value consistency. Ketchup is also easy to make at home, but none I've ever tasted was like good old Heinz (pre 2014).

Tomato juice by Heinz or its subsequent surrogate tastes great. It's quite salty though and easy to drink in quantity, that was my point. I was not questioning the salt content of the other products, simply because they are normally served in much lower quantity.

Dana said...

Raw, unprocessed pork belly, fat trimmed off and discarded, cut into chunks of your choosing, sauteed till they look like you want them to. Drain most of the fat off and continue. You don't even have to use molasses if you don't want to, maple syrup or even chunks of certain fruits can be used as a sweetener. You don't even need to soak dried beans overnight any more. There are 2 other methods that are just as effective - just make sure you drain off the soak water and rinse the beans well after.

I find consistency in home made foods boring. That's what industrial food is good for but very little else.