American food company and condiment titan the H.J. Heinz Co. announced that they will be laying off 600 workers across the United States and Canada. The layoffs will include 350 workers at the company’s home base in Pittsburgh, PA.
Heinz was bought in June by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and Brazilian investment firm 3G Capital for a reported $23.3 billion. Given the international flair of the deal, it comes as no surprise that is being labeled an efficiency move meant to help the company succeed on a global scale as it moves to being privately held.
All international aspirations aside, the company has said that it intends to remain headquartered in Pittsburgh, where it is a community staple. Even the home stadium of the Pittsburgh Steelers carries the name in the form of “Heinz Field”. Layoffs breed discontent though, and many people, including those in the Pittsburgh area, are wondering if the move will cause longtime customers to betray their brand loyalty.
With the move Heinz becomes the latest in a long line of classic American brands that have been purchased and changed into something different, for better or worse. The list includes American beer icon Anheuser-Busch, producer of Budweiser, agreed to be purchase by Belgian giant InBev, creating the largest brewer. While the Heinz move does not carry quite the same weight, it shows the changing tide of American business.