The Ketchup Story

‘Filthy, decomposed and putrid’ were the words used for tomato ketchup in the late 19th century. Fresh tomatoes were available only for two months in the year. So large quantities of tomato pulp were stored in iron barrels through the year in dirty storage facilities letting mold, yeast, spores and deadly bacteria thrive.

Boric acid along with formalin were used as preservatives. And coal tar was added to dye the ketchup in deep red colour. The demand for ketchup was very high and no one cared for quality.

It was in such times that young Henry started his condiments company. His deeply religious parents taught him the value of setting high moral standards in business. So, the first product he sold was horseradish in glass jars to show purity when others used opaque bottles. But even he did not have a recipe to make his ketchup, preservative free, for a long time.

Until one clear morning in 1904 when his food scientist GF Mason ran into his office shouting “Boss, I think we found a way”!

Henry J Heinz was a smart marketeer too and he ensured that his preservative free Heinz tomato ketchup in clear see-through bottles squashed all competition.

A story to make a point that transparency & ethics in business offer great competitive advantage.

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