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Ketchup kerfuffle: Loblaw to restock stores with French's ketchup after uproar

Last Updated Mar 15, 2016 at 4:59 pm EST

TORONTO – It’s a kerfuffle Loblaw didn’t relish.

The grocery chain announced Tuesday it was reversing its decision to pull French’s ketchup from store shelves following a social media uproar.

“We’ve heard our Loblaws customers,” Kevin Groh, the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs and communication, said in a statement.

The company said French’s ketchup never disappeared from its shelves entirely and it will restock the product as soon as possible.

Earlier, Loblaw said it decided to stop carrying French’s regular ketchup due to low sales over the past year. But it continued to sell French’s two flavoured varieties, Buffalo ketchup and garlic ketchup.

The popularity of French’s ketchup soared after a man’s Facebook post lauding the U.S.-based company for its commitment to buy tomatoes from Canadian farmers.

Brian Fernandez posted a photo of a French’s ketchup bottle in late February and said his family would no longer buy Heinz ketchup since the company closed its Leamington, Ont., plant and cost the community about 750 jobs.

French’s regular and flavoured ketchup use 100 per cent Canadian-grown tomatoes, according to its website. French’s did not respond to request for comment.

Fernandez’s post was shared more than 132,000 times and prompted a member of the Ontario legislature to ask for the Queen’s Park dining room and cafeteria to switch to French’s ketchup.

Demand for French’s increased following the publicity. Fernandez later posted that a Zehrs in Orillia, Ont., sold out of 10 cases of the condiment on the same day it received them. Others weighed in with similar stories from their local grocers.

Groh said he hopes the enthusiasm shown for the product on social media and in the news will translate to in-store sales.

The company said it did not increase or set a new listing fee for French’s in its decision to continue to stock the ketchup. Some grocery chains charge these fees to companies that want their products sold in stores.

Loblaw also stocks its own brand of ketchup, under the President’s Choice label, including an organic variety, a low-sodium choice and regular ketchup. Loblaw did not respond to questions on whether they buy the tomatoes for their ketchup from Leamington or other Canadian tomato farmers.

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