The Ontario government has put up almost $500,000 to keep a small bite of the business in the province from the pending closure of a Campbell Soup plant.
New Jersey-based Campbell announced in April that it will close its processing plant at Listowel, about 50 km northwest of Kitchener, by April next year and move its production to contractors’ facilities and another Campbell-owned plant in the U.S.
The Listowel facility employs about 500 people making mostly frozen products such as soup, entrees, ramen noodles and Pepperidge Farm-brand products. Campbell made the decision as a cost-cutting measure, along with the closure and sale of some facilities in Australia.
But Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Leeanna Pendergast announced Friday that the province will provide $491,987 for what’s called “The Newdle Project,” which will see Campbell’s baked noodle production line from Listowel moved to J.T. Bakeries at Kitchener.
“This project will help ensure that the company’s unique noodle manufacturing process remains in Ontario, providing local suppliers with a continued market for their products,” the province said.
The move is expected to “stabilize” about 200 jobs at J.T. Bakeries and another 45 jobs at New Life Mills’ flour mill at Hanover, about 55 km north of Listowel. Another 12 staff from the Campbell plant will move to the Kitchener noodle production line.
“This project will support our local wheat growers, producers of flour milling ingredients and packaging and distribution services associated with the line,” Pendergast said in a release.
“By creating these 12 full-time positions and retaining our current 200 positions, we anticipate combined annual sales revenue of $10 million from our Campbell and private label product sales,” J.T. Bakeries president Ray Franklin said in the same release.
The province said its funding will flow through its Rural Economic Development Program, which includes a focus on community revitalization.