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Heinz Girgarre Tomato Sauce Factory closure and the McDonalds connection

Fluorescent tomato sauce for the pies sold at the SCG this week would have been a great promotion for both Heinz and the Jane McGrath Foundation.

However, in mid year when the sauce for my McDondald’s fries was fluro pink – it was cause for real concern. On inspection, the packaging on the faulty product read “Heinz, manufactured in Qingdao”.  You may remember Qingdao as the coastal city engulfed in fluro green seaweed prior to the China Olympic Yachting events.

I have visited Qingdao several times as my brother teaches at a Qingdao University. Whilst the area is less polluted than other areas of China, the tomato farms are small and fragmented compared to their Australian counterparts. As such, quality control of herbicides, pesticides and fertiliser would be almost impossible. Whilst Qingdao factories, although not old, operate without the environmental, labour and consumer protection laws that exist in Australia.

Is sourcing food products from overseas a wise move for well respected companies such as Heinz and McDonalds?

In terms of cost, probably, in terms of quality, highly unlikely, in terms of brand loyalty certainly not. As consumers, my family and I now avoid purchasing food products not Australian made, because you cannot rely on the quality control of overseas produced food.

Recently, I discussed global outsourcing with a senior American banking executive. He had recently closed their call centre in Mumbai because, “It is pointless to reduce costs if all you do is alienate your clients, in whom the bank has invested many years to build their loyalty.”

So on the 12th day of Christmas the Heinz wise men closed their last remaining tomato sauce factory in Australia- a great Christmas gift for the 150 workers and the 1000 locals who will be affected by the closure of the Girgarre plant!

Let’s hope that the Goulburn Valley Food Cooperative can work out a deal with Heinz to re-open the Girgarre factory and Australians can continue you to have Aussie Tomato Sauce on their pies at the footy and cricket.

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