This week Down Under

Cadbury vows to ‘secure' jobs while announcing 50 redundancies

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags: Cold chain, New zealand

Though Mondelēz has billed its new plans to invest A$75m (US$60m) into upgrading its Hobart Cadbury factory as a move to “secure local jobs”, it has at the same time revealed that nearly 10% of jobs will be shed in the process.

Over past five years, we have invested A$110m in Tasmania, and today are announcing a further A$75m commitment to be spent over the next 18 months​,” Amanda Banfield, area vice-president said in a statement.

Yet in a bid to improve conversion costs by 30%, she added that 50 of the 450 staff at the Claremont site “will be leaving the business by the end of the year​”.

It represents the second axing of jobs from the Hobart plant in just over two years, after Cadbury shed 80 jobs in May 2015.

Banfield said: “Our team here has worked hard to help us become more efficient, cut costs and improve our competitiveness and as a result, we’ve reduced the cost of converting raw materials into a block of chocolate by 12%​.

But while progress has been made, increasing local and global competition, low domestic growth, rising costs, and Australia’s distance from overseas markets make it difficult to compete against the likes of European factories with lower costs​.”

Manufacturing director Jason Bonisoli said the changes investment and redundancies would “create scale and drive costs down to position us to compete for export volume, and secure local jobs and the future of manufacturing in Tasmania​”.

The announcement comes just three months after Mondelēz said it was considering shuttering the Cadbury Dunedin factory in New Zealand and moving its production to the Tasmanian factory. 

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union said Cadbury should have looked at cutting managers before frontline staff to make efficiencies.

Its state secretary, John Short, told the ABC that the job losses would have a massive impact on the wider community.

"Fifty jobs, so 50 families are going to be affected by these job losses​," he said.

Tasmania premier Will Hodgman called the situation "very disappointing​", and promised the state government would do everything it could to assist affected workers, including deploying the Skills Response Unit.

More from Down Under…

David v Goliath breakfast cereal battle gears up for NZ High Court

Like any other trademark holder, Sanitarium has little choice but to protect its brand, according to NZ Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich.

Weetabix

She was commenting after the antipodean cereal major said it was preparing to take a New Zealand store to court over its attempts to import British brand Weetabix.

"They’re in a difficult position because Weetabix, imported by retailer A Little Bit of Britain, is clearly similar to Sanitarium’s Weet-Bix—there’s a one-letter difference​,” Rich said.

"Sanitarium has held the rights to the Weet-Bix brand since 1928. It’s one of New Zealand’s strongest and most-loved brands that has been built up over nearly 90 years​.”

The protection of intellectual property through trademarks and patents is extremely important to businesses large or small, said Rich.

She asked: ”How would the complaining importer A Little Bit of Britain react if another New Zealander set up a similar online retail business and added just one letter calling it 'A Tiny Bit of Britain' or 'A Little Bite of Britain​'? 

I’m sure the company would be quick to complain that the names were too similar, confusing, and a breach of their rights​.”

"It’s a shame Sanitarium has had to go to the High Court, but it was left with no option​,” she added, claiming that “a public scrap” like this would create much free publicity for the small retail company. 

"On the surface looks like a David vs Goliath battle, but there’s more to it than that. According to reports, fair and reasonable options have already been presented, such as over-stickering, which would allow the release of the product, and happy customers​.”

However, A Little Bit of Britain co-owner Lisa Wilson says she has no intention of giving in to the larger company, especially after a container of Weetabix was detained at customs after Sanitarium issued a border notice.

Having initiated an online petition to seek support, Wilson said: “Sanitarium have a pallet of British Weetabix detained and we can't sell it in our shops. We have imported and paid for these goods and have lots of customers awaiting its arrival​. 

We are not willing to agree to crossing out the name on the box, and wish for them to release the shipment. If you want to see the Weetabix back on the shelves please sign [our petition]​.”

She said she was confident she was not infringing the Weet-Bix trademark. 

"We are not trying to confuse or deceive anyone. We are just a small-time trader with a British store, our clients are all British and come for a specific product. They wanted us to relabel it which we weren't comfortable with doing​,” Wilson said.

She later told RNZ: "It just seems very stupid that [Sanitarium] feel threatened by a small business in New Zealand compared to probably the thousands of packets of Weet-Bix they produce every day​.

"We're going to ask them just to release the shipment with no conditions, because we don't want to cover up the word 'Weetabix' for them, because we don't feel like it's a trademark issue. We will put it in front of a judge and see what they come back with​."

Cold chain industry body formed to cut through waste-reduction rhetoric

Australia's first advocacy group to improve food handling compliance and standards has been established in Queensland.

Cold chain

The Australian Food Cold Chain Council claims to have brought together a “cross-section of the heavyweights​” in manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain services.

"The new council is not about promoting an industry: we want to change the industry for the better​," said Mark Mitchell, its interim chairman.

"One of our priorities will be to apply whatever pressure is needed in industry and in government to make sure the existing Australian standards for cold chain food handling are properly followed​.”

He said little has been done to improve the Australian cold chain despite “lots of rhetoric​” by the government and industry players over commitments to waste reduction and compliance.

"Australia's track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect​,” Mitchell said, adding that 5% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions come from food wastage..

AFCCC directors represent a broad cross-section of the cold chain, including members from Carrier Transicold, SuperCool Australia, SuperCool Australia and Lion.

Related topics: Business, Oceania, Supply chain, Confectionery

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