French's to start bottling ketchup in southwestern Ontario

French’s tells CBC that it’s negotiating with a Canadian food processor to bottle its ketchup in southwestern Ontario.

'If we could do this tomorrow we would, so we are working on making this happen very soon,' French's says

French's ketchup sold in Canadian grocery stores is currently bottled in Ohio. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Condiment maker French's tells CBC News it's negotiating with a Canadian food processor to bottle its ketchup in southwestern Ontario.

"We are currently in negotiations on moving bottling and expanding our food service business to Canada," the company said in a statement.

"That announcement will be made in the next week," Elliott Penner, president of the French's Food Co., said in the same statement.

French's, known mostly for its yellow mustard, recently entered the ketchup market. Earlier this year, it promised to use only tomatoes grown in Leamington, Ont., in its ketchup.

The paste from those tomatoes is processed at the Highbury Canco food processing plant, which is in the former Heinz plant in Leamington. The paste is shipped to a pair of French's bottling plants.

A facility in Toronto manufactures the company's food services ketchup — the stuff that ends up in restaurants — while a plant in Ohio bottles product that ends up on grocery store shelves.

Stacey Bender, who speaks for French's, would not say exactly where the food processor the company plans to contract is located, only that it will be in southwestern Ontario.

Asked why French's has plans to move its ketchup production into Canada, Bender's answer was direct.

"We want all our Canadian ketchup to be made in Canada. If we could do this tomorrow we would, so we are working on making this happen very soon," she said in an email.

French's made headlines and sparked online Canadian patriotism when a Facebook post about its Leamington-grown tomatoes went viral. It then made headlines again when Canadian grocery giant Loblaws announced it would no longer stock French's ketchup.

That decision sparked online outrage and Loblaws reversed its decision a day later.

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