Heinz Leamington announcement coming this week

Good news appears to be in store for Leamington, which was to be hard hit by the scheduled closure of the Heinz processing plant there.

Sources say a Canadian company will move in and make tomato juice for Heinz

The tomato processing plant in Leamington quietly changed hands on the weekend. (CBC File Photo)

Good news appears to be in store for Leamington, which was to be hard hit by the scheduled closure of the Heinz processing plant there.

Leamington Mayor John Paterson tells CBC News he is cutting short his attendance at the Good Roads Association conference in Toronto so he can be in town "in case" there is some good news about the Heinz plant.

Sources close to the negotiations to keep work at the Leamington Heinz plant tell CBC News an announcement will be made this week.

CBC News has been told a Canadian food processor will continue to make tomato juice for Heinz. The province will be on hand to make the announcement.

The move will save up to 40 per cent of the nearly 800 jobs that were to be lost in June when Heinz ceases operations there.

Locally grown tomatoes will be used to make the juice.

According to the Canadian Agricultural Products Act, tomato juice sold in Canada “shall be the canned, unconcentrated, pasteurized liquid containing a substantial portion of fine tomato pulp extracted from sound, ripe whole tomatoes from which all stems and objectionable portions have been removed, with or without the application of heat, by any method that does not add water to such liquid.”

The Leamington plant was the last in the Heinz chain to process whole tomatoes. Tomato paste made in the U.S. is used at all its other U.S. plants. If Heinz wants to maintain a share of the Canadian tomato juice market, it cannot simply add a packaging line and make tomato juice from concentrate (paste) in the U.S. and ship it to the Canadian market. 

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and partner, 3G Capital, bought H.J. Heinz Co. for $23.3 billion US in February 2013.

In November of last year, Heinz announced it would close its Leamington processing plant in June 2014.

At the time, Buffet called the facility “unprofitable.”

The 105-year-old Heinz plant in Leamington made ketchup, beans, baby food and juice.

An email to Heinz spokesperson Michael Mullen wasn't immediately returned.

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