Condiment maker French’s stumbled into a public-relations victory this month, when the fact it uses Canadian tomatoes for its ketchup went viral across the country.
Now the company is doubling down on that at least partly accidental strategy, and has announced it’s going to start bottling its ketchup in Canada, too.
"We are currently in negotiations on moving bottling and expanding our food service business to Canada," the company said in a statement quoted by CBC News.
It’s not known yet where the new bottling plant will be. The obvious choice would be Leamington, Ontario — the heart of southern Ontario’s tomato-growing region, and site of a Heinz bottling plant that closed in 2014.
But French’s president Elliott Penner told Postmedia that Leamington won’t be the site of the new bottling operation.
Highbury Canco took over the old Heinz plant, rescuing some 250 of nearly 800 jobs there, and they are already processing the tomatoes for French’s ketchup. But Penner says Highbury Canco doesn’t have the capacity to bottle the ketchup as well.
The tweet that started it all:
Still, French's says the new plant will be somewhere in southwestern Ontario.
In the space of several weeks, French’s ketchup has become a de facto icon of Canadian patriotism, with even some politicians campaigning for French’s and against Heinz, given Heinz' decision to shut down its Leamington plant.
Grocery giant Loblaws took flak from the public when it announced it would be dropping French’s ketchup from its shelves. The company reversed its decision a day after announcing it.
According to an internal memo obtained by the Canadian Press, Loblaws had dropped the French’s label because it was “cannibalizing” sales of its own house brand of ketchup.