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Kraft Heinz to shut Ontario factory

Salad dressing plant in St.

Kraft Heinz is closing is closing a plant in Canada and six others in the United States over the next two years as part of a downsizing that will eliminate 2,600 jobs, the newly merged food company announced Wednesday.

The Canadian plant being closed is in St. Marys, a small town in southwestern Ontario.

The other facilities being shuttered are in Fullerton and San Leandro, Calif., Federalsburg, Md.; Campbell, N.Y.; Lehigh Valley, Pa., and Madison, Wis.

The closures will occur over the next 12 to 24 months.

Specific details on the shutdown of the Ontario plant were not available, but the factory is believed to employ some 200 people.

Its the second Heinz plant to suffer that fate in the last few years. After being acquired by 3G and Berkshire back in 2013, Heinz announced plans to phase out a number of plants, including one in Leamington, Ont., that had been in operation for more than a century.

Around 740 full-time, permanent staff were going to be laid off as a result. However, Highbury Canco later agreed to buy the plant, saving at least 250 jobs.

Michael Mullen, senior vice-president of corporate and government affairs at Kraft Heinz, said in a statement Wednesday that the decision to consolidate its manufacturing network was ``a critical step in our plan to eliminate excess capacity and reduce operational redundancies for the new combined company.''

``This will make Kraft Heinz more globally competitive and accelerate the company's future growth,'' he said. ``We have reached this difficult but necessary decision after thoroughly exploring extensive alternatives and options.''

Meanwhile, the company said it also will close its existing lunch-meat processing plant in Davenport, Iowa, and move production to a new state-of-the-art plant to be built several kilometres away within two years. Part of the company's cheese production will also be moved away from Champaign, Ill.

The company, co-headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, was formed from the merger of Kraft and Heinz earlier this year. The new company announced in August that 2,500 non-factory jobs would be cut following the merger.

With the closures announced Wednesday, Kraft Heinz will have 41 plants in North America that employ about 18,000 people.

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