Unite has hailed the vote of confidence in Heinz factory workers in Wigan after the American-owned food manufacturing giant announced that it would be bringing ketchup, mayonnaise and salad cream production back to the UK.
In its biggest investment announcement outside the US in two decades, Kraft Heinz said it would be injecting £140m over the next four years into its Wigan plant Kitt Green. The decision will create an additional 50 full-time jobs and would mean for the first time in 20 years, Heinz ketchup will be made in Britain instead of in the Netherlands.
The Kitt Green site in the outskirts of Wigan is already the biggest single food manufacturing site in all of Europe, producing 1.3bn cans of food every year, including beans, soups, and pastas. The vast majority – 94 per cent – of what the Kitt Green plant produces is consumed in the UK.
With the new investment, the company will install new machinery at the factory which, in addition to facilitating production of the three different condiments, will also make their products more sustainable. Currently, most of the company’s product packaging is not recyclable but with the new investment, all packaging will be fully recyclable.
In addition to creating dozens of new jobs, the new investments means that factory workers will also upskill with training to learn to use the new machinery.
Site director Luis Spinardi said the news meant there was in store “a very exciting time for Kitt Green”.
“I am proud that the potential for the site to grow and modernise is being recognized,” he said. “Not only are we excited to be expanding our product mix by bringing sauces back to the UK but also look forward to a more efficient facility with a sustainable future.”
Unite national officer for food, drink and agriculture Joe Clarke likewise hailed the announcement.
He said that after “Brexit and near the end of a global pandemic, this is tremendous news for the hardworking members at Kraft Heinz and reflects the exceptional cooperative working that has been built upon over many years especially over the past 12 months with everybody pulling together through Covid, keeping the nation fed throughout the global pandemic.”
“Here’s just rewards for everybody’s hard work and effort,” he added.
The investment announcement comes at a time when demand for ketchup has skyrocketed amid the pandemic as popularity of takeaways has soared. In April, the US faced shortages of ketchup sachets – to cope with the shortage Kraft Heinz said it increased production and added productions lines in existing factories in America.
By Hajera Blagg