Heinz to close ketchup, frozen food plants

by Monica Watrous
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PITTSBURGH — The H.J. Heinz Co. has announced plans to close three North American plants and eliminate approximately 1,350 positions.

Frozen food manufacturing facilities in Florence, S.C., and Pocatello, Idaho, and a ketchup plant in Leamington, Ont., will be shuttered in a staged process over the next six to eight months, the company said. Production will be transitioned to other plants in the United States and Canada.

The decision follows an extensive review of the company’s North American supply chain footprint, capabilities and capacity utilization. Heinz said it will continue to invest in improving capacity utilization and will add 470 jobs across five facilities in Ohio, Iowa, California and Canada. Upon completion of the consolidation, Heinz will employ approximately 6,800 hourly and salaried workers at North America sites.

“Our decision to consolidate manufacturing across North America is a critical step in our plan to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible to become more competitive in a challenging environment, and to accelerate the Company’s future growth,” said Michael Mullen, senior vice-president of corporate and government affairs. “We reached this decision after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options. Heinz fully appreciates and regrets the impact our decision will have on employees and the communities in which these factories are located.”

The company said it will offer severance and outplacement services to affected employees.

In August, Heinz announced plans to eliminate 600 office positions as part of its transition to a private company. An investment consortium comprised of Berkshire Hathaway and an investment fund affiliated with 3G Capital on June 7 completed the acquisition of H.J. Heinz in a transaction valued at $28 billion.
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