Ketchup changeup: McDonald's dropping Heinz after CEO change


By Lisa Baertlein

Oct 25 (Reuters) - World's biggest fast-food chain seeks newketchup for its famous french fries.

McDonald's Corp on Friday said it plans to end its40-year relationship with ketchup maker H.J. Heinz Co, sincethat company is now led by Bernardo Hees, the former chiefexecutive of hamburger rival Burger King Worldwide Inc.

"As a result of recent management changes at Heinz, we havedecided to transition our business to other suppliers overtime," McDonald's said in a statement.

"We have spoken to Heinz and plan to work together to ensurea smooth and orderly transition," said McDonald's, which hasmore than 34,000 restaurants around the globe.

Heinz declined to comment. "As a matter of policy, Heinzdoes not comment on relationships with customers," companyspokesman Michael Mullen said.

The switch will be more apparent overseas than in the UnitedStates, as McDonald's only serves Heinz ketchup in two domesticmarkets - Pittsburgh and Minneapolis, the PittsburghPost-Gazette reported on Friday.

Indeed, ketchup packages handed out at McDonald'srestaurants in the United States often say only "fancy ketchup."Most in-store ketchup dispensers are not branded.

The move from McDonald's could benefit Heinz ketchup rivalsHunt's, owned by ConAgra Foods Inc, and Del Monte.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and an investment fundaffiliated with 3G Capital bought Heinz for $28 billion in Juneand immediately named Hees CEO.

Burger King went public in June 2012, less than two yearsafter it was taken private by 3G Capital Management LLC, whichretains a stake in the fast-food chain.

Burger King has been a Heinz customer for "decades" and usesits products in roughly 80 percent of markets around the world, spokesman Miguel Piedra told Reuters.

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