For many years, Iowa tomato growers had a buyer for their crop in Muscatine.
Kraft Heinz’s second production facility — and the company’s first outside Pittsburgh — was constructed in Muscatine in 1893. It originally processed sauerkraut, horseradish and pickles.
The plant added ketchup and other tomato products in 1898. Muscatine was then in the heart of a tomato-growing region that included western Illinois. For many decades, the plant was taking in tons of tomatoes during the months of August and September and turning out millions of bottles of ketchup.
That changed in 1991 when Kraft Heinz switched to using tomato paste for production of ketchup and other tomato products, according to Michael Mullen, senior vice president of corporate and government affairs at Kraft Heinz.
Mullen said the Muscatine plant remains a strategic facility, producing ketchup, mustard, barbecue sauces, honey, hot sauce, cocktail sauce and sweet-and-sour sauces.