Primo rekindles Canadian ketchup war
Look out Heinz and French’s, there’s another brand entering the Canadian "ketchup war."
Primo Foods Inc., known for its pasta and sauce, has launched tomato ketchup that is being promoted as 100 per cent Canadian.
John Porco, chief operating officer at Primo Foods, says they are doing a test market in the southwestern Ontario region, in the London-Windsor corridor.
"Once we saw the media hype on the Canadian angle, that French's went with, we thought well, the fact of the matter is, that we are really 100 per cent Canadian-owned and operated,” says Porco.
The company says every bottle is packed in Canada with Canadian farm grown tomatoes, harvested in the Leamington area.
"So we're the local guy, we employ local people," says Porco.
He says they really feel that we have the 100 per cent Canadian angle. The timing seemed right, with the recent debate over French’s and Heinz ketchup last month.
“That's why we moved forward, we expedited our strategies and last week basically we finalized our approach, we packed up the product and our guys are out there trying to sell it as we speak.”
But company president Henry Iacobelli says Primo's decision to bring ketchup to market began well before the success of French's.
Iacobelli says Primo has had ketchup plans in the works for decades. He says he developed a ketchup recipe 20 years ago -- but shelved it because he knew going up against Heinz at the time was not going to be fruitful.
"Why get in a squabble with your neighbour right?" Iacobelli quipped.
But when Heinz pulled out of Leamington two years ago, Iacobelli says he saw an opportunity to enter the market.
"We thought you know what, ketchup is not in our line up," he said. "Maybe we're missing something."
Iacobelli says his daughter, Sandra dusted off the old family recipe and made some tweaks.
"She in the last couple of years perfected that recipe, and here we are," said Iacobelli.
Iacobelli, also the president of Primo's parent company Sun-Brite Foods Inc, says the company is contracted to purchase 186,000 tonnes of tomatoes from Essex and Chatham-Kent county farms.
He says the new tomato ketchup will be in stores by next week. Remarks in Windsor is currently making shelf space for Primo, right next to Heinz.