Partnership between French’s & Select Food yields a ketchup bottled with Canadian Pride

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Select Food Products Limited image

Photo from Select Food Products Limited

French’s is earning a lot of praise amongst Canadians as of late, now that their ketchup made from Canadian tomatoes is also being manufactured in the country, deeming it Canada’s “most patriotic condiment”.

French’s ketchup has always been made with Canadian tomatoes, but it used to be processed in an Ohio plant in the U.S.  That is until French’s partnered with Select Food Products Ltd. (a 100% Canadian family-owned food manufacturer) so it could achieve all-Canadian bragging rights. The Select Food production facility, located in North York, is now producing all of the company’s ketchup sold in Canada.

This PLANT Magazine article shares that the facility is pumping out 5,000 litres of French’s ketchup every hour, equalling 250 bottles every minute; and by 2018, production will reach 10 million bottles.

Now that’s a lot of Canadian tomatoes and dollars being cycled through our food system.

It’s a smart, calculated move for French’s, at a time when there is a loud, growing demand to support local — a demand made clear in the infamous “condiment wars” that were sparked when Heinz announced the closure of their Leamington plant to make its ketchup in the States, resulting in a slew of upset farmers, workers and customers.

But proving once again that customers indeed have a voice, it was consumers on social media that helped make a loud uproar over Heinz’s announcement, which would ultimately give French’s the opportunity to simultaneously fill the demand and save the day. A Facebook post from an Orillia man stating that he would support Canadian farmers via French’s ketchup from now on—ending with “Bye. Bye. Heinz.”—would go viral with well over 100,000 shares.

As this Financial Post article shares, “Today’s consumers, especially millennials, ‘want things local,’ said French’s president Elliott Penner. ‘They don’t want to see things that they don’t know where they came from.’”

With the understanding that Canadians are hungry for Canadian-made products, French’s responded to the demand with a Canadian-made condiment (also free of preservatives, artificial flavours and high fructose corn syrup).

Amidst the “condiment wars” last year, French’s announced this partnership with Select Food Products, saying it would take until 2017 for the new plant to be operational as the facility had to undergo major construction and upgrades (including new infrastructure). Along with the partnership support from French’s, Select also received support from the Greenbelt Fund and from Growing Forward 2.

The PLANT Magazine article shared, “That investment was important to us because it shows the government is aware that supporting local food producers is valuable to the economy,” said Andrew Mitchell, Select’s president and CEO, who acquired the company in 2015 from descendants of its original owners. “A lot of the volume is about farmers and primary growers, but not many people talk about the secondary processors. Food will always be produced in Canada because Canadians want to buy products manufactured here.”

More than 90% of French’s ketchup ingredients, including the tomatoes, vinegar, water and sugar, are sourced from Canadian suppliers.

Read much more from the cover story of PLANT Magazine’s September 2017 issue here: