The story behind Heinz tomato ketchup as production of nation's favourite sauce returns to Wigan
Heinz's famous tomato ketchup will soon be made in Wigan again after the US-owned food processing giant revealed plans to invest £140 million in its borough site.
The famous ketchup is a staple of kitchens, cafes, restaurants and fast-food outlets across the UK, US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, with more than 650 million bottles sold worldwide and exported to 140 countries each year.
The sweet and tangy taste of Heinz ketchup has proved popular with diners for 150 years, since it was first introduced to Americans as 'Catsup' in 1876.
Marketed in the States as 'America's Favourite Ketchup', the sauce is also Britain's most popular condiment for burgers, hot dogs, BBQs, cooked breakfasts, chips and many more of our nation's favourite foods.
The ketchup was previously manufactured at a Heinz factory in Belgium before production was moved to Telford, Shropshire in 2014. Heinz said the move would cut transport costs as most of the firm's ketchup was sold in Britain.
DID YOU KNOW? The little portable packets of Heinz Tomato Ketchup - often found at cafes and fish and chip shops - were first introduced in 1967.
But soon, most of the Heinz ketchup sold across Europe will be made in Wigan at the company's flagship factory in Kitt Green, following a £140 million investment planned for the site.
A cornerstone of Wigan's economy for decades, the sprawling food processing plant is the largest in Europe and the largest Heinz facility in the world, with its illuminated '57' sign a landmark to those passing Wigan on the M6 near Orrell.
The Kitt Green factory was opened on May 21, 1959 and was paid a royal visit just a few weeks later by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on June 24.
The factory celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009, with a visit by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with the royal couple also opening a new packaging hall.
DID YOU KNOW? Heinz ketchup is a popular pizza topping in some countries, with the sweet and tangy sauce squirted on pizzas in Trinidad, Lebanon and Poland.
In 2013, the 'world-class' Wigan factory was listed by Discovery Channel as one of the world’s top five manufacturing units, alongside Volkswagen‘s car plant in Wolfsburg,Germany; NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida; POSCO's steel plant in South Korea and the world's largest oil refinery, the Jamnagar Refinery in India.
The food processing plant already produces all of the Heinz tinned goods sold across Europe - 1.3 billion tins a year! - including its famous baked beans and soups.
But following a £140 million investment, Heinz will also move production of its popular condiments - including ketchup, mayonnaise and salad cream to the site.
You can read more about the Kraft Heinz plans to invest £140m in its Wigan food manufacturing plant here.