Published On: Sat, Nov 6th, 2010

Another Canadian Food Icon Lost – Eating Canadian by Reg Coffey – November 6, 2010 – Cornwall Ontario

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Cornwall ON - Do you read the label on the food packages before you buy? Do you know where your food comes from? How about the candy you bought for Halloween? Do you know where it was made?
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My wife and I checked every package to find out where everything was made and we were shocked to find out how little was Canadian made.
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People in eastern Ontario should be well aware that Hershey and Nestlé closed their manufacturing facilities here. In fact Hershey no longer has any processing facilities in Canada. The only multipack chocolate bar that we could find “Made in Canada” was Cadbury’s.
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We were thankful to find that Old Dutch potato chips were made in one of their plants in Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec or New Brunswick.
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And now, Bick’s Pickles, a Canadian standard in condiments since the 1950’s, is moving its processing facilities to the United States.
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The move was announced at the end of September by J.M. Smucker Co. who purchased the company in 2004. Smucker will move its pickle-making operations from a facility in Dunnville, Ontario, and a pickle tank farm in Delhi Township, Ontario, cutting about 150 jobs by the end of 2011.
However, this closer will not only affect all of the workers from the processing facility and tank farm, but the farmers who grew the cucumbers, cabbages and other produce to supply the company.
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A review of the history of Bick’s Pickles shows that this company was a true blue Canadian enterprise that we can, or should I say could, be proud of.
  • The founder of Bick’s pickles was George Bick, a Dutchman who started a cucumber farm north of Toronto in 1939 with his son Walter. A few years later, they started making pickles using an old family recipe… Canadians loved their dill pickles and thus the Bick’s brand of pickles, and other delicious pickled products, was born!
  • A new chapter in the Bick’s story began in 1966 when the company was sold to Robin Hood Canada. While Robin Hood maintained the quality and freshness that is synonymous with the Bick’s name, it wasn’t until 2004 that Bick’s was back in family hands… this time, the Smucker family. The J.M. Smucker Company purchased International Multifoods, the parent company of Robin Hood, and the Bick’s brand.
So by this time next year Bick’s Pickles will be made in the United States and the majority of Canadian consumers will keep on buying their product without even noticing.
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It’s time for Canadians to start choosing Made in Canada. Consumer choice will help keep the jobs here. If we buy Canadian we will not have to be subject to the American idea of food quality or food safety. If we buy local we can help grow the next big Canadian food icon that will represent Canadian values and will help keep the Canadian economy strong.
Scott BeckHomestead Organics
Displaying 13 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Reg says:

    As an add on to the story, I have found that an estimated 150 cucumber , pepper and beer growers will be affected by the closure and the seasonal farm workers who enjoyed steady employment thanks to the bridge cucumbers provided between asparagus and strawberry season and tobacco and apple season will suffer a month-long gap in the middle of the summer season.

    This is reminiscent of what happened in 2008 to the peach and pear canning facility in St. David’s that used to serve Ontario farmers. CanGro closed the plant after more than 100 years of operation
    because it’s cheaper to can tender fruit from China. Local farmers had to tear up thousands of fruit trees because there was no market for their production.

  2. What a sad turn of events…Thanks for sharing. I am happy to report that more and more Canadians are actually starting to check the country of origin of the products they purchase. 2 years ago, we launched a website dedicated exclusively to goods made in Canada. We tell consumers what is made here and where they can buy it (online or in-store). It`s a true grassroots mouvement and Canadian consumers MUST insist that their retailers stock more Candian-made products on their shelves!

  3. Reg says:

    A slight correction to my comment above, it is beet growers not beer growers.

    You can calm down now Grimalot. We are not losing any beer growers.

  4. Grimalot says:

    Woohoo! But I won’t be surprised if our government allows the sale of our beer breweries and such to the States as well, they seem to be letting all sorts of major parts of Canadian industry to be sold off.. We need to keep our beer at least!! :D

  5. Stan says:

    I find it strange that no one has mentioned cars that we drive. Are they all made in Canada?

  6. Kathy says:

    I have worked for a number of different companies over the past few years and there is a significant difference in the culture of a Canadian company vs a US owned company. People matter in a Canadian company. The “Kevin O’leary” personality is highly prized in an American company; results are not as important as how tough you are to get those results.

    Having worked at Bick’s Pickles in Toronto for 16 years, it saddens me to see the doors closed on a company that I remember as being a family culture; working together to get the job done, with pride in their product and their work.

  7. Sharon says:

    I thought Bick’s was originally from Holland or Denmark.

  8. Kathy says:

    The recipes were from Holland. They started on the farm in Scarborough, growing cucumbers for Heinz was a cash crop to supplement the dairy farm. One Year when Heinz did not need their cucumber crop they got 50 wooden barrels and made pickles using recipes from the home land, Holland. They loaded these barrels on their pick up truck and sold them to restaurants along the Danforth in Toronto.

  9. admin says:

    What a totally cool story.

  10. flipper says:

    And — at least in the 70’s — they were caring enough to have the women picked up by taxi after the late shift, and made sure they were properly delivered home or at least to the Warden subway station, where they could safely catch public transit.

    Fortunate for me as well since I was a struggling student driving a taxi through the night, and I would often get the call for Bicks (“With the pickle in it!”)

  11. Jacqueline says:

    I always check labeling before purchasing and a ‘Made in Canada’ label is great incentive for our family to purchase. Please support our food suppliers, our ability to support ourselves as a nation, and our ability to know how, where and what goes into our food products by directing your hard earned money to a ‘Made in Canada’ product. This supports our ability to feed ourselves and keeps jobs and opportunity at home.

  12. Kerry says:

    I just had a Bick’s baby dill ( a half of one) and immediately had to check the label.It was mushy and tasted poorly.It says made in USA on the label,did they lose the recipe?Last jar I buy from Bick’s.Sad way for such a great product to go.
    Kerry.

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