I spent a few days trying to figure out how a simple question sent me swirling down a corporate rabbit hole of nonsense. Last week I sent off a quick question to Heinz, via their website, asking where their baked beans are manufactured.  Recently the little red maple leaf and “Made in Canada” banner disappeared and nowhere on the label is an indicator as to origins. I like to know where my food is coming from so I whipped of a quick query.  Here’s their first answer:

There is nothing more important to us than pleasing you, and every one of our consumers, with high-quality products.

This product is available nationally, and unfortunately, I currently do not have information as to what retail stores in your area might carry this item. I’m sorry to disappoint you, and we understand how important it is to our consumers to know where to locate our products; but please understand that the decision to carry certain products rests on the grocers who make their decisions based on their consumers’ preferences.

In the meantime, we can suggest that you try speaking with the grocery store manager. They may be able to let you know when you can expect to see the product on shelf.

Is it too much to ask that they actually read the question?  I fired off a response asking them to answer the original question, where do they make the beans? Here’s their response: 

Please be advised that our foreign plants follow strict policies and procedures that we have put in place for Canadian manufacturing plants to produce high quality products.

Any production within or outside of Canada, follows careful analysis and is based on sound business reasons. We are consolidating production to make better use of our plants, and keep our business viable and competitive.I apologize, but their exact location is proprietary information in order to ensure our consumers’ safety and security

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you again soon!

Sincerely,
Director, Consumer Relations 

So, they are keeping me safe from … what? How is my security and safety compromised by knowing what country cans their beans?  OMG BUYING BAKED BEANS IS A SECURITY ISSUE! WHO’LL THINK OF THE CHILDREN!  What a bullshit answer.

This was the simplest of questions. Where do you make your baked beans?  Instead of being honest, Heinz offered up corporate speak for “fuck you, you don’t have the right to know”.  They learned the wrong lesson from the ketchup PR debacle over the last year.  Instead of being up front, they’re hoping to avoid more controversy by playing hide the button with consumers – quietly move more manufacturing out of Canada and pretend  they’re protecting the safety and security of Canadian consumers by hiding country of origin.  

Nicely played Heinz. I was less than enamoured with you prior to this little bit of nonsense. Now guess what company has been removed from my shopping list.  

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