© Can Stock Photo / Elenathewise

CK King Of Pumpkin Puree

If you enjoy a slice of pumpkin pie from Costco this Thanksgiving, you’re eating a pumpkin from Chatham-Kent.

Harvest-Pac Products in Chatham is the largest pumpkin processor in Canada and it supplies pumpkin puree to Costco across Canada.

“The pumpkin that we supply is strictly pumpkin puree. It’s pure pumpkin, there’s absolutely no additives,” says Operations Manager Roger Sterling. “So we just provide them with pure pumpkin puree, they add the spices and whatever else they need for their recipe.”

According to the Costco Connection magazine, the company sold 750,000 pumpkin pies in Canada in 2016.

Harvest-Pac also supplies pumpkin puree to about 20 or 30 different companies, including Tim Hortons, who use it for their pumpkin spice muffin.

Sterling says the company grows a special type of pumpkin that is specifically for baking.

“The characteristics of the pumpkin is, once you make a pie with it, it won’t separate from the crust and it won’t crack,” he says. “It’s not the jack-o-lantern type pumpkin. It’s a different pumpkin that’s been developed strictly for baking.”

The pumpkins, which are growing in fields around the community, are processed at the Harvest-Pac facility in Chatham.

“They get chopped up, we remove the seeds, we remove the skin, and they’re cooked,” says Sterling. “We put them either in large 100oz cans, or we also do large drums and large totes.”

The pumpkin harvest usually lasts eight to ten weeks from mid-September to late November, depending on the crop.