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Home / News / Sweet on Sour Kids: Hamilton candy factory launches $40-million expansion

Sweet on Sour Kids: Hamilton candy factory launches $40-million expansion

Sour Patch Kids Hamilton

50 staff hired at Main West plant that makes Maynards Swedish Fish, Sour Patch Kids

By Tom Hogue
Tom Hogue is a feature writer and video producer who regularly contributes to the business section of thespec.com and The Hamilton Spectator. He is a recipient of a Western Magazine Award, Ontario Newspaper Awards and was nominated for a National Magazine Award.Email: thogue@thespec.com

There’s no masquerading the fact that sugar season is about to begin.

Door-to-door candy during Halloween, sweets over the holidays and the go-to Valentine’s Day gift — chocolate — are Hallmark moments in the $150-billion snack industry

Almost on cue, Hamilton’s Mondelez candy factory has launched a $40-million plant expansion this week at the Main West location of the former Kraft company to ramp up production of hundreds of millions of Sour Patch Kids, Swedish Fish and other Maynards products distributed across North America.

“This gives us the opportunity to continue to innovate, to provide Canadians with combinations of flavours we couldn’t do in the past because we didn’t have the capacity,” Martin Parent, president of Mondelez Canada, said Wednesday during an official opening of the facility.

The machine installed at the heart of the project produces 11 million candies a day in a perpetual sequence of Willy Wonka-style whirring pistons that inject liquid sugar into various moulds.

It’s called a “mogul.” And though it’s basically a robot assembly line that can handle the entire production of a specific candy from start to finish, Mondelez added 50 positions to bring total staffing up to 350 workers at the 24-hour operation.

Parent said mechanization brings “well-paying, permanent jobs because it takes highly-skilled people to do the work.”

“The (Hamilton) plant is the best in the whole Mondelez network because of quality,” Parent said.

“There is dedication among the employees here who want to do well.”

In addition to five other plants in the Toronto and Montreal areas that make Oreos, Cadbury and Ritz products among other brands, Mondelez operates distribution centres such as one in Stoney Creek.

The official introduction of the million-dollar “mogul” to the Main West neighbourhood is icing on the cake for a year of local snack and sugar investments.

Sucro Sourcing opened a $10-million refinery on the harbour in the summer to add to a liquid sugar plant it built here five years ago.

Growing operations of Sucro and its Pier 10 neighbour P&H, a flour mill, prompted a $16-million investment by the Hamilton and Oshawa Port Authority to create a deeper shipping channel and more warehouse space for faster unloading of ships.

The new warehouse space opening up behind Collective Arts brewery on Ferguson North gives Sucro room to expand its organic sugar operation, a market that is growing at five to eight per cent a year, according to Don Hill, director of the Miami-based firm.

In what Hill calls a first for the Canada, Sucro organized a bulk shipment of raw organic sugar to Hamilton from South America last month to serve local, regional and U.S. markets from its Hamilton base.

Hill describes its Pier 10 plant as the first significant sugar production facility built in Canada since 1958, bringing a third competitor to a country dominated by two sugar suppliers — Redpath and Atlantic.

“It’s more competitive market with three rather than two,” he said, adding that lower freight costs gives it the potential to compete for sales in a local agrifood market that includes Karma CandyWalker’s Chocolates and confectionary giants like Mondelez and Nutella-maker Ferraro, which just completed a $90-million cocoa processing plant at its Brantford plant.

Portrait of Michael Marini

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