by SUSAN MANN
The processing tomato growing season got off to a late start this year but one southwestern Ontario processor will still get its full crop requirement, its spokesperson says.
Joan Patterson, corporate affairs leader for Heinz Canada, says the company’s 46 contract growers faced challenges when planting because of the excessive rain this spring but they all got their tomatoes planted.
The company hopes to start processing the tomatoes by mid-August, “which is actually very close to our plan,” she says.
The contract growers for Heinz are located within 100 kilometres of the company’s plant in Leamington. They grow a total of nearly 5,000 acres.
In the early weeks of the harvest, Patterson says they’ll likely have short tomato volumes so there will be excess capacity in the factory. But “we expect to meet our full production.”
The crop demand for Heinz this year is 240,000 tons, Patterson says, noting that’s more than their crop demand for last year. “We’re not concerned about getting our complete tonnage. We just know the capacity will still be staggered but it will come in a little bit later.”
Heinz expects to get its full requirement this year despite the challenging start to the growing season. Patterson says planting started late this year so growers weren’t able to stagger their plantings as much as in other years. “The lateness just means that we’ll be picking up at full capacity a little bit later than normal,” she says. But “we expect to be fine.”
Heinz growers use plants that are grown from seeds developed by the company. The seedlings are started in Leamington-area greenhouses and then they’re planted in the fields, Patterson says. BF