French's prepares to triple its tomato paste order from Highbury Canco
Deal not signed, but company says it wants to increase order of Canadian-grown tomatoes
It appears The French's Food Company's expansion into ketchup production is a hit with consumers.
The company is looking to increase its order of tomato paste at Highbury Canco to about three million kilograms, three and a half times more than its original order.
French's, most famous for its mustard, recently began its expansion into the ketchup industry. It's promised to only use tomatoes grown in Leamington, Ont.— the self-proclaimed Tomato Capital of Canada — and other parts of southwestern Ontario.
"It's kind of a walk before you run exercise, but it's all going in the right direction," Elliott Penner, French's CEO told CBC News in a phone interview. "There was nothing concrete when we started, but it seems that week by week, month by month, the story builds and gets better."
The increased supply of tomato paste is expected to be used in barbecue sauce in the United Kingdom and the United States.
French's is also planning on continuing to sell its ketchup and continue expanding into other tomato-based products in Canada, Penner said. He said French's could be looking to Highbury Canco to increase its manufacturing capacity.
"We'll clearly keep expanding our ketchup business, that makes sense," Penner said. "We're also working with Highbury to purchase tomatoes and then make tomato paste, but also working to see if they can help us with manufacturing some products we can enter in the Canadian marketplace."
"That could be further use of tomatoes, but also some employment for manufacturing as well," he said.
Though a deal hasn't been signed yet, Sam Diab, the president of Highbury Canco, is cautiously optimistic in this development.
"It's very encouraging," Diab said. "I think things are going very well with the group at French's and we're doing a lot of negotiations this time of year for tomato paste for sale with many potential customers."
Diab said the company is set to begin negotiations with farmers and other manufacturers on the price of tomatoes on March 1.