The news was announced shortly after Heinz unveiled plans to close three factories in Florence, SC (Smart Ones); Pocatello, ID (frozen entrees, snacks); and Leamington in Canada (ketchup); in the coming months, with the loss of 1,350 jobs.
Heinz - which said in August it was cutting 600 office jobs in the US and Canada in a bid to simplify its structure and speed up decision making - said production would shift to other facilities, adding 470 new jobs.
The Massillon plant, which currently employs around 400 people and makes frozen products under the Weight Watchers Smart Ones brand, “will be a flagship of our North American business, becoming our Frozen Food Center of Excellence”, said Heinz senior VP of corporate & government affairs Michael Mullen.
Pittsburgh-based Heinz - which was acquired in June for $28bn by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate and investment company 3G Capital and has been on a cost-cutting drive ever since - said the plant closures were “a critical step in our plan to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible".
It has also warned that 250 office jobs could be cut in the UK and Ireland, which union bosses have described as "savage" and "unnecessary" [click here for more details at our sister site FoodManufacture.co.uk].
Heinz, which recently lost a contract to supply McDonald’s with ketchup “as a result of recent management changes" (the appointment of ex-Burger King CEO Bernardo Hees as CEO) - generated sales of $11.6bn in 2012.
Europe is its biggest market ($3.4bn) followed by the US ($3.2bn).
In addition to its iconic Heinz ketchup, Heinz makes Classico spaghetti sauces, Ore-Ida potatoes and Smart Ones frozen meals in the US. In other major markets such as the UK it is best known for its soups, baked beans and babyfood.