What The Quaker Plant Means To Peterborough

Photo by Evan Holt

Photo by Evan Holt

With the recent announcements that the Kellogg's plant in London, Ont. and Heinz plant in Leamington, Ont., will be closing, some wonder how safe the Pepsi-QTG plant—more commonly known as the Quaker plant—is here in Peterborough. About 500 full-time jobs will be lost in London and 740 in Leamington, a huge loss to those communities.

No doubt the implications if the Quaker Plant closed here would be enormous: Hundreds of jobs would be lost, so many families impacted, not to mention the trickle down effect on the local economy. And then, of course, there would be the psychological impact of losing an iconic plant in the heart of the city. The plant is an institution in Peterborough, a vital part of the fabric of the community. The plant was first established on the shores of the Otonabee in 1902 (it was rebuilt after the devestating fire of 1916). Imagine if that plant just became empty? With no employees and no wonderful smells of food, of production, coming out of it.

So is Pepsi QTG vulnerable to the same market pressures as Heinz and Kellogg's as corporate restructuring happens? Absolutely. But the belief is everything that can be done is being done to keep it here. "It's disconcerting to see what's happening in Leamington and London, but at the same time Pepsi QTG has made significant investments in the Peterborough plant," says Peterborough Chamber CEO Stu Harrison.

We asked Mayor Bennett if he's concerned in light of Heinz and Kellogg's plant closures and what the city can do to help prevent it from happening here. "Those are corporate decisions not necessarily influenced by local conditions," he says. "The USA has been encouraging their corporations to rebase in North America and primarily in the USA. The Heinz and Kellogg decision are in part the results. Quaker continues to be a responsible corporate citizen in our region. The plant is well managed and responsive to its consumers demands. People change and we will deal with that as we can."

The truth is one knows exactly what is going to happen to the plant that's such a huge part of the city—and symbolic of so many things Peterborough. But as Stu Harrison reminds us all, every local purchase counts in large amounts: "If you have cereal on your grocery list, make sure it's made here in Peterborough."

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