By Mallory Clarkson
The smell of freshly baked pizza wafted from London City Hall Tuesday (July 26) as warm slices of Canadian, spinach and veggie-topped pizza were handed out. That’s an aroma London residents will have to get used to once a new Dr. Oetker pizza plant rolls out its Ristorante, Casa di Mama and Panebello products from its new location.
“We already feel a little bit at home here in London and look forward to a long and prosperous future in London,” said Dr. Martin Reintjes, executive vice-president at Dr. Oetker GmbH German headquarters.
“As a fourth generation family-run business we understand the importance of community and we are thrilled to become a part of this thriving community here in London.”
London Mayor Joe Fontana and London West MPP Chris Bentley joined Reintjes for the announcement.
Ground is expected to be broken for this new state-of-the-art facility later this summer, but the plant won’t be fully operational until 2014. Once it’s up and running, the plant will be producing and distributing 50 million frozen pizzas throughout North America annually. The facility will be located in Innovation Park on a newly named street: Dr. Oetker Gate.
Not only will the plant be filling the pockets of 150 direct employees come early 2014, but it will be filling North America’s plates with slices of southwestern Ontario. More than 24 million pounds of ingredients will be bought from local farmers and food processors. That’s one of the reasons London was picked as the company’s North American processing plant, which will be the largest Dr. Oetker facility outside Europe.
“The reason for choosing London is obviously its excellent location,” Reintjes said. “As well, the surroundings and the possibility to get raw materials supplied from the regional area.
“You know what are the ingredients of a pizza, so you can imagine what will be the agricultural products we will need.”
It’s expected that around 300 indirect jobs will also be created when the plant opens in about two years.
Fontana said this deal wasn’t just about selling a piece of land.
“It was about building a relationship with a great corporation,” he said. “We’re going to be the North American capital for pizza — that is an incredible name that we will cherish for a long time.”
London West MPP Chris Bentley added this is proof that a lot of good is going on in the community.
“We’re coming back from the worst recession to hit Ontario and Canada since the ‘30s (and) we’re coming back strongly,” he said. The province also funded $7 million towards this project.
Reintjes couldn’t share Dr. Oetker’s financial investment at this time.