Facebook post about Canada-made ketchup inspires Canadian pride

Though it's best known for its mustard, French's stepped in in January to produce ketchup in Leamington, Ont.

Family likes knowing that its ketchup comes from within Canada

More than 107,000 people shared a Facebook post by Brian Fernandez on a brand of ketchup he found was made in Canada. (Brian Fernandez/Facebook)

Brian Fernandez isn't picky about most of his food, except for things like ketchup. It can't be too runny or have too much vinegar. So he was suspicious when he first saw a French's brand ketchup at the grocery store.

But his wife told him, "Why don't you look it up?"

Fernandez did, and ended up learning a lot about a plant out in Leamington, Ont, that makes the brand's ketchup. After buying a bottle, the Orillia, Ont. resident wrote a Facebook post on Tuesday morning about his made-in-Canada discovery.

Within a few days, more than 107,000 people shared his post, along with their Canadian pride. 

In June 2014, Heinz had ended production in Leamington, where it had been making the condiment since 1909.

Highbury Canco bought the plant from Heinz, but it cut 740 employees and there'd be no more ketchup - until earlier this year that is. Though best known for mustard, French's stepped in in January to produce ketchup with Highbury Canco and promised to use tomatoes from farms around Leamington and in southwestern Ontario

An added bonus for Fernandez: he's a Type 2 diabetic and the ketchup doesn't use high fructose corn syrup.

"At that point I was glad that I bought it, so we did a taste test," he said to CBC News.

He and his family did a blind taste test. They readied a bunch of French fries with Heinz on one half and French's on the other. His wife and his two adolescent children were pleasantly surprised with the Canadian product. 

Fernandez has been buying Heinz ketchup for years, but after the taste test he wrote on Facebook: "Bye. Bye. Heinz."

"I am definitely going to try it. Screw you Heinz for pulling out of Canada," Sherry Smith commented, not long after his post. 

A couple days later he got a call from Buzzfeed, which asked him about his photo of the ketchup bottle. At first he didn't understand why, but his wife discovered that he'd amassed more than 20,000 shares.

"It definitely taught me about the power of social media," he said, adding that it was a positive experience. "It's just like that old commercial, where they told two friends and they told two friends, and so on."

If you didn't live through the 80s, he's referring to this ad.

He even started receiving messages from farmers thanking him for his post, including one that used to work in the Leamington area.

Fernandez said he also had people accuse him of being a spokesman or that his post was inaccurate. 

"Some of them were like ... 'You need to get your facts straight. What websites are you looking at? You can't trust the news agencies,'" said Fernandez. 

Fernandez said that as a construction worker, he isn't looking to shill out for one company over another. He said that he regularly visits a farmers market in Orillia, where he lives, to buy local food. 

"I don't normally research a lot of products, but if I find they're made in Canada or hire Canadian workers, our family tends to buy them," he said.