News

Queen’s Park likely to switch to French's ketchup by April

Trevor Wilhelm, Postmedia News

Taras Natyshak, MPP Essex, is photographed at the Windsor Star in Windsor on Thursday, March 3, 2016. (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE/Postmedia Network)

Taras Natyshak, MPP Essex, is photographed at the Windsor Star in Windsor on Thursday, March 3, 2016. (TYLER BROWNBRIDGE/Postmedia Network)

By April, the ketchup that Ontario’s political elite squirt on their hotdogs in the halls of power will likely be made with Leamington’s finest.

The company that handles food service at Queen’s Park says it’s had a plan in the works to replace Heinz ketchup with French’s for quite some time, long before a popular petition began to make it happen.

It was just a matter of working out contracts and pricing.

At Queen’s Park it would be almost embarrassing if we didn’t do it or if we had some reason not to do that.

“We do have some in the building now,” said Bill Hannan, director of Food Services for Dana Hospitality at Queen’s Park. “Company-wide we’re actually switching to the French’s brand.”

“At Queen’s Park it would be almost embarrassing if we didn’t do it or if we had some reason not to do that.”

Taras Natyshak, the New Democrat MPP for Essex, announced this week he launched a petition to demand the Legislative Assembly of Ontario direct its hospitality services to exclusively serve French’s ketchup.

Pittsburgh-based food giant Heinz ended a century of ownership of the Leamington plant in June 2015 after selling the facility to Highbury Canco.

Heinz ketchup is no longer produced at the plant, but Highbury Canco does manufacture Heinz tomato juice, beans and canned pasta there.

French’s, also an American brand, later announced it would start buying tomato paste for its ketchup from Highbury Canco.

Natyshak’s petition states the ketchup served in the Queen’s Park dining room and cafeteria is currently not an Ontario product. It goes on to state French’s ketchup “proudly uses Tomatoes grown in Leamington Ontario,” and promotion of the product would support producers, workers and communities across Essex County.

By 12:30 p.m. Friday the petition had 561 signatures. But it turns out the petition wasn’t necessary.

Hannan, his chef and catering manager took a field trip to Leamington after Heinz pulled out.

“We’d gone down to see some of the greenhouse operations down there, so we were certainly well aware of it,” said Hannan.

“Then as I started to see the things on the news I said 'hey guys we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to make sure that we’re prepared if anybody’s going to get asked. It’s Queen’s Park.”

Hannan said he reached out to Dana’s vice-president of procurement, who revealed it was already happening.

“They really truly believe in sustainability and local foods,” said Hannan. “We make our soups in house but the template we use is buy local eat global. So you try to use global flavours but local ingredients as much as possible. That’s the mandate throughout the company, but of course we think it’s a little bit magnified at Queen’s Park, for sure.”

Hannan said he’s been told that Queen’s Park will likely have the French’s line by April. A salesman dropped off some off on Thursday.

Hannan wasn’t sure how much ketchup they go through at Queen’s Park, but added it’s a lot depending on the time of year.

“It’s the most popular condiment we carry,” he said. “It’s high volume for us when the house is sitting, when the government is in session.”