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Kraft Heinz considering plant closures in upstate New York

| Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, 5:36 p.m.

Kraft Heinz Co. is turning its attention to cutting manufacturing capacity, the latest move by the food giant to reduce expenses since its mega-merger earlier this year.

The company, which formed in July through the combination of Pittsburgh's H.J. Heinz Co. and Chicago's Kraft Foods Group, said it is reviewing three plants in upstate New York for possible closure.

The plants make Kraft products, including Lunchables, Cool Whip and Kraft cheese products, and employ 950.

“These three New York factories are under close review, and an announcement about their future will be communicated in the next week or so,” spokesman Michael Mullen said in a written statement.

Kraft Heinz in August slashed 2,500 salaried jobs across the United States and Canada, mostly at former Kraft Foods offices.

The merged company is run by former Heinz executives who made substantial cuts to the ketchup maker's factories and workforce after taking the company private in 2013.

The merger of Kraft and Heinz, engineered by Heinz owners 3G Capital and Warren Buffett, established the world's fifth-largest food and beverage company. Kraft Heinz has predicted it will eliminate $1.5 billion in costs during the integration.

Kraft had 34 manufacturing plants in the United States and two in Canada as of December, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

After teaming with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway to buy Heinz in 2013, 3G cut more than 7,000 jobs, including about 400 in Pittsburgh, and closed five factories in North America and around the globe. Heinz's global employment was 24,500 people at the end of last year, down from 31,900 employees in 2013.

Kraft Heinz employs about 800 in Pittsburgh, which is a co-headquarters for the combined company. The company is in the process of moving its co-headquarters from Northfield, Ill., to downtown Chicago.

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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