Leamington, Ont., angry with McDonald's for dropping Heinz

Some Leamington residents tell CBC News they plan to boycott McDonald’s or bring their own ketchup to the restaurant now that the fast food chain has severed ties with Heinz.
McDonald's is the world's largest fast food chain. (Richard Drew/AP)

Some Leamington residents tell CBC News they plan to boycott McDonald’s or bring their own ketchup to the restaurant now that the fast food chain has severed ties with Heinz.

McDonald’s announced on Friday it would stop using Heinz ketchup packs worldwide.

The Heinz plant in Leamington employs 800 full-time workers and another 200 seasonal workers each year. The operation is one of the biggest taxpayers and water users in Leamington, the tomato capital of Canada.

However, Leamington Mayor John Paterson said the ketchup squeeze by McDonald’s shouldn’t affect Leamington. He said ketchup packets aren’t made in his town.

Heinz disappeared from many US branches in the 1970s after the company couldn’t meet McDonald’s demands due to a tomato shortage.

Since then, apart from in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis where Heinz is still used, most ketchup is just branded as ‘fancy ketchup’ in U.S. branches of the fast food giant.

McDonald’s decided to end its 40-year relationship with H.J. Heinz Co, because that company is now led by Bernardo Hees, the former chief executive of hamburger rival Burger King Worldwide Inc.

Burger King has been a customer of Heinz for ‘decades’ and will continue to use its products at around 80 per cent of its outlets around the world, according to a company spokesman.

“As a result of recent management changes at Heinz, we have decided to transition our business to other suppliers over time,” said Gema Rayo, national media relations manager for McDonald’s Canada. “ We have spoken to Heinz and plan to work together to ensure a smooth and orderly transition of the McDonald’s restaurant business, and are confident that there will be no impact to our business, our customers and our great tasting food at McDonald’s.”

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