Ford & Heinz Team Up in a Surprising Way

In an announcement that was cleverly titled You Say Tomato; We Say Tom-Auto, Ford recently announced that they are going to partner with Warren Buffett’s H.J. Heinz Co. in an effort to find a way to use tomato fibers in automobiles. Last year, in February, Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway acquired the world famous ketchup maker for $28 billion in a partnership with 3G Capital.

In their recent press release, the company highlights that both Heinz and Ford researchers are working in full collaboration to see if tomato fibers – i.e. dried tomato skins – are capable of being used for the wiring brackets or small storage bins in automobiles.

“We are delighted that the technology has been validated,” noted associate director, packaging R&D for Heinz Vidhu Nagpal, in the release. “Although we are in the very early stages of research, and many questions remain, we are excited about the possibilities this could produce for both Heinz and Ford, and the advancement of sustainable 100% plant-based plastics.”

Heinz first partnered with Ford back in 2012. They are working to find environmentally friendly ways to reuse the seeds, stems and peels of over 2,000,000 tons of tomatoes that Heinz uses to make their ketchup.

In conjunction with Procter & Gamble, Nike and Coca-Cola, five companies have come together to form the Plant PET Technology Collaborative, which seeks to speed up the development and the use of material that is plant-based. They will use it in products ranging from clothes, bottles, carpets and automotive fabrics.

In a report released last year, Ford mentioned that it is looking to continue to find more uses for environmentally friendly and natural “materials technologies that improve environmental and social performance and reduce costs and weight” for all of its vehicles.

Ford mentioned that this strategy has “reduced the number of materials we specify and use, to maintain consistent quality and enable cost reductions.”

Ford has started using recycled nonmetal and materials that are bio-based including cellulose fiber reinforced console components and rice whole filled electrical cowl brackets which they introduced just last year. Some other examples include recycled cotton material for seat fabrics and carpeting, seat cushions made of soy foam, head restraints made of soy foam and coconut-based composite materials we learned from the company.

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