H. J. Heinz, Wigan
The H. J. Heinz, Wigan factory is a food manufacturing plant owned by H. J. Heinz Company, based in Kitt Green, Orrell, near Wigan in Greater Manchester, England. It is the largest food processing plant in Europe and the largest H. J. Heinz facility in the world.
H. J. Heinz varieties first went on sale in Fortnum & Mason in 1886. After World War I, with a headquarters established in Hayes, London, Heinz started exporting Baked Beans, Spaghetti and Tomato Ketchup to the UK, and then opened its first UK production facility in Harlesden in the 1920s. During World War II this facility was bombed twice, resulting in the takeover after the war of the former munitions factory at Standish near Wigan in 1946 to allow the restart of food production.
Needing a new consolidated factory outside London, the site in Northwest England was chosen due to its ease of access to both the UK agricultural industry, as well as the Atlantic Ocean (Liverpool Docks) and Europe via the North Sea, to allow for easy and low-cost access of both raw product and the export of manufactured processed food.
The Kitt Green factory was opened on 21 May 1959 by the Lord Chancellor, the Rt. Hon. David Maxwell Fyfe, 1st Earl of Kilmuir. A few weeks later it was visited by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother on 24 June 1959.
As the chosen 55-acre (220,000 m2) site allowed easy expansion, by the 1980s the factory had taken over the production of all UK product from Harlesden except Heinz Tomato Ketchup. After Harlesden closed in 2000, this has since also been produced at Kitt Green.
Now employing 1,200 people, the factory makes 1.5-3 million cans of Heinz Baked Beans per day, and more than 1 billion cans a year of their product range overall. It is the largest food processing plant in Europe, and the largest of Heinz's factories around the world.
In 2013, the factory was listed by Discovery Channel as one of the world’s top five manufacturing units, alongside: Reliance’s Jamnagar Refinery; Volkswagen‘s car plant; NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; POSCO's steel plant.
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