350 jobs lost in Cadbury closure
Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps could be made overseas
Kiwi favourites Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps could be made overseas under a plan to shut Cadbury’s Dunedin factory with the loss of more than 350 jobs.
Cadbury’s owner, American food giant Mondelez International, unveiled the plan yesterday to close the factory next year.
While its chocolate bars are already produced overseas, the Dunedin factory, which has been open since 1884, still makes Pineapple Lumps and Jaffas, as well as crumb chocolate that is used in other products.
Under the proposal, all of the volume would be absorbed into existing Mondelez operations ‘‘mostly in Australia’’, Amanda Banfield, Mondelez vice-president for Australia, New Zealand and Japan, said. ‘‘In the case of the Kiwi favourites, the Pineapple Lumps and Jaffas, we are interested in looking at whether there is a local manufacturer willing to take that on behalf and would manufacture here for us.’’
That could be in Dunedin, she said, adding that the recipes would not be changed and confirming the products would still be available.
Despite the ‘‘great work of the team’’ and an $80 million investment over the past decade, the company was unable to find a longterm future for the factory, Banfield said. ‘‘The plant is not losing money, it is not about that. It is about its long-term sustainability. It is actually more cost-effective for us to move this volume elsewhere and that is really the view we have taken.’’
She said the Dunedin operation was challenged by scale, with the volume about a third of what it needed to be sustainable in the long-term. About 70 per cent of what was produced in Dunedin was exported, mainly to Australia, and shipping across the Tasman, ‘‘was one of the most expensive stretches of water to ship across in the world’’.
Mondelez said it would invest to redevelop the tourist side of the popular Cadbury World operation if the local community wanted it to.
Hundreds of workers were called to a meeting and briefed on the proposal yesterday.
The E Tu Union, which represents some of the affected workers, said the shock waves would roll through Dunedin.
‘‘The company had reported it was doing well and this has come out of the blue,’’ E Tu’s Chas Muir said. ‘‘It’s devastating news for the workers at Cadbury’s and for the local Dunedin economy. Cadbury is the city’s fourth biggest employer and many workers have been with the company for years.’’
If the plan goes ahead, the first job loses will kick in late this year for most staff. Mondelez said about 100 people would be kept on until early 2018.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said the move would prompt consumers to buy New Zealand made chocolate.