As part of an effort to improve efficiency, food maker H.J. Heinz is shedding jobs – closing plants in Idaho, South Carolina and Canada, a total of 1,350 jobs over the next six months.
Heinz says production will be moved to its other US and Canadian plants.
Extra investment will be channeled into five plants in California, Iowa, Ohio and Canada, which will take on 470 more people.
In August 2013, the company had decided to cut 600 jobs in the USA and Canada.
Earlier this year, Heinz was taken over in a $28 billion deal by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and 3G Capital.
According to Heinz, the aim is to consolidate its North American manufacturing operations. In a communiqué, the company said it wants “to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible to become more competitive in a challenging environment.”
When all is done Heinz will have 6,800 hourly and salaried workers in the USA and Canada, and a total of 32,000 workers globally.
Heinz ketchup factory closes in Leamington, Canada
Local media say 740 Heinz employees at Leamington will be affected by the decision, as well as tomato growers in the local area. They will likely be told that in the coming season there will be no orders for tomatoes.
Tomato growers around Leamington won’t get Heinz order during the coming season.
According to Canadian Cattlemen, growers will know officially on December 1st how this decision will affect them.
Within 60 miles of Leamington Heinz has contracts with 46 independent producers on approximately 5,500 acres of land.
Heinz Canada has always boasted that 98% of the tomatoes used in Heinz Canadian ketchup is grown locally. Leamington, according to past Heinz comments, is the company’s second-largest plant worldwide.
Henry Heinz chose Leamington in 1909 as his first foreign location in which to expand operations. He requested no municipal taxes for 20 years, except for the education portion. A new sewer line and free water for a specific period were promised. The town decided to take a vote on the proposal, which resulted in 551 in favor and 18 against.
According to the Toronto Star, Leamington Heinz officials called a meeting of all employees on Thursday afternoon. They were all told about the head office’s decision to close down the plant. The last production run will be during the middle of 2014.
In a telephone interview with the Toronto Star, John Paterson, Mayor of Leamington, said “They have been the biggest employer since forever. This is really hard news. I imagine everybody is going to be a panic mode, wondering what’s going to happen.”
A letter which was handed to all Leamington employees informed “This decision is not a reflection of the commitment of our employees or the quality of the products you make. It is based primarily on excess capacity in our North American manufacturing system.”
The Heinz facility in Florence, South Carolina
The Heinz facility in Florence employs 200 people. It makes Weight Watcher Smart Ones and Boston Market frozen meals, among other products.
According to WBTV News13, the factory opened in 2011 and “Heinz was given $2 million by Florence County officials for the land and facilities as an incentive and part of a promise by the company to employ 350 people.”
Despite expectations of 350 employees, the numbers never reached more than slightly over 200.
Florence County Economic Development Director, Joe King said production at the Heinz plant will be phased out within the next four to eight months.
A Heinz spokesman, Michael Mullin, released the following statement to WBTV News13:
“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, including Florence, SC (200 employees); Pocatello, ID (410 employees); and, Leamington, ON in Canada (740 employees). In a staged process over the next six to eight months, production in these locations will shift to other existing factories in the U.S. and Canada.”