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Loblaw to restock stores with French's ketchup after uproar

Last Updated Mar 15, 2016 at 5:02 pm EST

TORONTO – Loblaw is reversing its decision to pull French’s ketchup from its store shelves following a social media uproar.

The company originally said it would stop selling the brand-name ketchup even after the condiment surged in popularity thanks to the French’s commitment to buy tomatoes from Canadian farmers.

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

The grocery store chain will restock the product as soon as possible, he said. French’s did not respond to request for comment.

Earlier, Loblaw said it had stopped stocking French’s regular ketchup due to low sales over the past year. But it continued to stock 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 supporting local farmers went viral.

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 ketchups uses 100 per cent Canadian-grown tomatoes, according to its website.

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.

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 ketchups from Leamington or other Canadian tomato farmers, or elsewhere.