More jobs coming to Highbury Canco

Tomatoes at Highbury Canco ready to be processed. (BlackburnNews photo)

A financial boost from the federal government is helping Leamington reclaim its status as Canada’s tomato capital.

Highbury Canco is nearing the completion of an expansion made possible by $3.6 million received from FedDev Ontario, the federal government’s agency supporting economic growth in southern Ontario. With this expansion, the plant is adding 170 jobs to bring the total workforce to 650 full-time employees, plus over 200 seasonal workers.

Melanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, stopped by the plant Thursday while on a tour of industrial sites in Windsor-Essex.

“Highbury Canco Corporation is an excellent example of a rural manufacturer scaling up its production capacity to reach new markets, and we are here to help,” Joly said in a media release. “This company is strengthening the local supply chain and creating jobs in Leamington, as well as contributing to a healthier environment with the adoption of clean technologies and the use of recyclable products.”

The expansion includes two packaging and processing lines powered by state-of-the-art, high-speed equipment. The resulting production has doubled, while energy efficiency has increased by 50 per cent. Thanks to the expansion, Highbury Canco has added eleven new products to its production stock, packaged by completed recyclable material.

The increased production at Highbury Canco will continue to support the efforts of Windsor-Essex farmers. FedDev Ontario has estimated that the amount of locally-produced tomatoes purchased from local farmers will increase from the current 135 tons per year to 155 tons per year by 2022.

Highbury Canco has owned and operated the landmark Leamington plant since 2014 when ketchup giant Heinz sold its local operation. The plant continues to produce products for Kraft-Heinz Canada and other clients.