Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pickles: Not made in Ontario

Ontario made pickles under attack.
I'm angry. I don't always think coherently when I am angry and this morning I am angry.

Some time ago I wrote a piece on made in India pickles. It is my third most popular post the number of hits slowly closing in on 10,000. I have learned people all over North America have noticed the changes occurring in the pickle business.

Small producers have been swallowed by food industry giants. This may be the main theme running through this story. The outsourcing to India may, in the end, be but a small aside to the bigger story.

If you are a 60 or older and living in Ontario, let me ask you: "What was your favorite pickle?" Ontario made Bick's? If it was, it isn't anymore. At least, it won't be a made in Ontario Bick's pickle. All of Bick's pickle production in Ontario was halted by its American owner, J.W. Smucker, and moved to the States. For more info on this see: Locomotives, pickles and coffee: all share one story.

Maybe you answered Strubs. I did. I've been a Strubs fan since I was a young boy. When I moved out of the home and got my first job at a newspaper in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, my friend Jim and I stocked Strubs in our bachelor pad. We may have been poor but we had standards.

Today I heard from one of my blog readers. I was sent a link to an article in The Toronto Star. Strubs is on the ropes and may be about to hit the mat for the full count. Read: Strubs Food insolvency could mean end of locally made dill pickle.

Generally, I don't swear. Not out loud. But, internally I can curse a blue streak at times. As I read the article by reporter Jennifer Wells, I could not stop myself from cursing quietly, internally, in great anger:

The family-run Strubs company was sold to the newly named Strubs Food Corp. in late 2008. The owners of Strubs Food were not the Strubs clan, but rather the principals behind Foodfest International 2000 Inc., a food processor. . . . The Strubs pickle line, including the inimitable pickled eggs, became part of the Foodfest product offering, with a buffet of non-pickled items — smoked salmon, hummus — now bearing the Strubs name.

Smoked salmon did not just bear the Strubs name, it tarnished it. Last fall, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Foodfest International 2000 Inc. warned the public not to consume Strubs ready-to-eat Danish Style Smoked Grav-Lox Atlantic Salmon because the product may be contaminated with Salmonella.

I thought the Strub Brothers brand might be in trouble when I spotted a fancy gift package of Strub's pickles labeled 'Product of India.'

Monday the whole problem goes to court in Toronto. Will a solution be found? Will the Strubs name be saved? Maybe. Whyte’s Food Corp., a Quebec-based family firm, is the preferred acquirer.
The Whyte’s and Mrs. Whyte’s labels are largely unknown in Ontario, even though the firm has roots going back to 1892. The fermented, fresh-packed kosher dill is at the heart of the family-owned operation. Whyte's and Strubs appear be a perfect match.

The Strubs name may live on. The non-Strubs processed products — the hummus, the salmon — will disappear. (Yesterday, February 6th, 2013, I saw some Strubs pickles on the grocery shelf; They were made by Whyte's out of Quebec.)


  1. Here in the States, many Meijer pickle products are made in India, plus a few from Kroger, too [namely the baby pickles/miniatures]. Unfortunately, the labels are identical to the US-made ones, so every jar has to be checked individually...however, I'm very pleased to say that Meijer brand products including:
    -tissues/paper products
    -ammonia-based window cleaner
    are all made in Canada. Heck, the "Cosmic Star" cereal was made in Germany, of all places!

    Not to mention 3M had made tape and Scotch-Brite in Canada as well. A shame to see industries going to countries with low quality standards selling potentially contaminated food, just to reach a lower price point...

  2. Even worse news - while these posts are old, this thread shows how many are apathetic to food imported from low-quality sources:
    Unfortunately, I can't link to specific posts, but most of the first page just taunts the OP, although he should've immediately mentioned the health hazards of Indian pickles, while many of the people replying sit back and poison themselves...

  3. And here: http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/manufacturing-america-europe/ot-imports-again-our-food-supply-125474/

    What is becoming of people? Food and everyday, non-food products are totally different!