Officials with Whyte’s Foods Inc. are “thrilled” after announcing a $16.5-million investment in Wallaceburg.
Beth Kawaja, president of Whyte’s Foods, said during a ceremony held at the fountain park in downtown Wallaceburg on Thursday, their company recognized the value of the agriculture base and the quality products grown in Chatham-Kent.
“Mayor Randy Hope and his Economic Development team have been working diligently with us to bring this economic investment to fruition,” Kawaja said.
“All in all, there is a fabulous support system in place in this community and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”
Kawaja said they have purchased a building, consisting of 150,000 square feet, at 6800 Baseline Road. She said the building will be transformed into a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, dedicated to the production of marinated food products for the food service and retail sectors of the food industry.
Whyte’s is a privately-owned Canadian manufacturing company, which has been under the same ownership for more than 43 years. Some of their brands include: Strub’s, Whyte’s, Mrs. Whyte’s and Coronation.
“We are very proud of our brand recognition and track record here in Canada,” Kawaja said.
“Development and growth are key elements for our sustainability and success.”
Whyte’s Foods expects to create nearly 100 new jobs in the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, Kawaja added.
Relationships have already been established with many local growers as well.
“Whyte’s hopes to further its relationships with Ontario growers and become a significant contributor to the agriculture industry here in Chatham-Kent,” Kawaja said.
“With this acquisition, Whyte’s is expected to purchase annually approximately 7,000 to 8,000 tons of cucumbers and peppers from producers in the Chatham-Kent region.”
Products to be manufactured in the new Wallaceburg plant include relish, pickles and marinated peppers.
“While many manufacturers are relocating their production facilities to the United States, Whyte’s strongly believes that the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is ideally located for food manufacturing, given its robust agricultural industry, supportive local government and for its proximity to the U.S. market,” Kawaja said.
“Continuing to provide high quality products made from local vegetables distinguishes us in the Canadian market. With this, Whyte’s is committed to cultivating growth shore-to-shore.”
During s speech at the ceremony, Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope credited the past work done by the former Wallaceburg and Community Task Force.
“This community went through a tough economic time,” he said.
“During 2007, the (Wallaceburg Community) Task Force was established… what is our core business and what are we good at? There is a number of people here today that were a part of that Task Force that helped us fill the buildings that we have today, but most importantly, to set a new direction and maybe an old direction back in rejuvenating it.”
Hope said agriculture has always been a part of Wallaceburg.
“We want to regenerate that enthusiasm and (Whyte’s) announcement here today helps us achieve that goal that the Task Force first set out,” he said.
“As I look around the room, I’m not the one that needs to be convinced about Chatham-Kent being the agricultural community it is. We grow over 74 different products, 2,000 square kilometres of agricultural land, prime agricultural land. I need to make sure that both Federal and Provincial governments and U.S. government understand, that in the Great Lake basin we are the capital of agriculture in Chatham-Kent. With over 74 different products and a $3-billion industry and a drainage system that is second to none.”
Hope said Thursday’s announcement came together with a team approach.
“A community coming together to support agriculture.,” he said.
“Today we are standing here proudly that (Whyte’s) has accepted our community as being your new home and your new major investment. That is significant, people I don’t really think get it yet, how important and how huge of an investment that you are making into the community of Wallaceburg and trusting the people of this community to make your business successful in the North American marketplace… because we can be the best, and we do produce the best products around. “
On behalf of Chatham-Kent staff, Hope presented Whyte’s with a special gift – a painting created by a local artist of boats in the Sydenham River at WAMBO – which was donated by Duchene Paint & Accent Alley in downtown Wallaceburg.
Wallaceburg Coun. Carmen McGregor also thanked Whyte’s for choosing to come to Wallaceburg.
“This is very good news for our community,” she said.
“We’ve had a turn in the last little bit and things have started to happen, but this is major for our community. I know everybody that is going to leave here today, it’s going to be the talk. We look forward to working with you… welcome to Wallaceburg.”
Wallaceburg Counc. Jeff Wesley said he is ecstatic to welcome the new business to Wallaceburg.
“This is such a great community and thank you for coming here,” he said.
“You will not find a more dedicated, compassionate, concerned and supportive community in all of Ontario… it’s right here in Wallaceburg and Chatham-Kent. Thank-you for the investment. We will do anything we can to assist you. I’ve said I love pickles, now I can say I love Strubs pickles.”
Wesley added: “I did want to thank Mayor Randy Hope, I know we’ve been talking about this for some time, it took a lot of effort to keep Carmen and I in confidence of what was going on. I appreciate that he had a dogged determination to make this happen along with all of the farmers. This is agriculture-town here in Ontario and we appreciate that. Thank-you all, I can’t say it enough.”
Karen Debergh, president of the Wallaceburg and District Chamber of Commerce, provided greetings at the ceremony. She also handed Whyte’s representatives with a commemorative ‘Flying W’ to welcome the company to town.
“Thank-you for the investment you are putting into our town,” she said.
“You don’t know how much we appreciate it and how much we look forward to having a great and long partnership with you.”
More information about the plant opening
– Facility renovations are expected to be completed in January 2019.
– Nearly 100 new jobs will be created within the next 18 months. A few specialized jobs will be announced within the next year, with the bulk of recruitment by end of summer 2019.
– Job posting will be announced publicly through Chatham Daily News, Indeed, Chatham Employment Resources Center, Strub’s Facebook page, jobs fair etc.
– Retail production lines are targeted to be in operation by November 2019, and Food Service by April 2019.
For more details you can read our original story, here: Whyte’s Foods investing $16.5-million in Wallaceburg