Cadbury dairy unit for sale Mondelez offers as going concern

The Cadbury Factory in Dunedin. Photo: ODT.
The Cadbury Factory in Dunedin. Photo: ODT.
Mondelez International is now offering the dairy processing plant on the Dunedin Cadbury site as a going concern to an investor, presenting a potential export opportunity.

The news comes as the deadline passed yesterday for local companies such as Oamaru’s Rainbow Confectionery to express interest in making Jaffas, Buzz Bars and Pineapple Lumps.

The dairy processing plant on the Cadbury site produces more than 8000 tonnes of condensed milk a year.

Dunedin South MP and Cadbury working party member Clare Curran said there had been a change of plan on the dairy plant, which presented a potential export opportunity.

"What they’ve discovered is that the Australian side of the operation doesn’t need the condensed milk part of the operation so it becomes redundant for their purposes.

"That wasn’t what they’d thought at the beginning. I’m not sure why that’s come about."

The milk processing plant is in the warehouse on the north side of the Cadbury site.

Mondelez spokesman Jake Hatton denied the multinational had changed part of its plan.

"There has been no change.

"Selling the part of the site that contains the dairy processing plant would be no different to selling any other part of the site. However, it could contain equipment that a dairy producer may want to continue to use as a going operation.

"We have been working through all of the equipment to be transferred to other Mondelez International sites and we do not have a need to transfer the milk processing equipment, and are therefore open to exploring opportunities that may provide an economic and employment contribution to the local economy," Mr Hatton said.

The equipment could be modified to produce other dairy products as well as condensed milk.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said it was pleasing to see the dairy plant sold as a going concern.

"There is a nice story in that if that is a viable business unit that can be sold off ... it’s ultimately good if it keeps jobs in the city and keeps some of that manufacturing."

Mr Christie said there would be export opportunities for the product, possibly in China.

"China’s a market, obviously, and their demand for dairy is quite high.

"But there could equally be other markets where people who have got established relationships may be able to see the opportunity," Mr Christie said.

"We know dairy is an attractive product worldwide."

Yesterday was the deadline for parties interested  in the New Zealand confectionery line to express interest in the third-party manufacturing offer.

The multinational is looking for a manufacturer to produce the sweets, including Jaffas, Buzz Bars and Pineapple Lumps, under licence.

Rainbow Confectionery general manager Brent Baillie confirmed yesterday the Oamaru sweet-maker remained interested in the Kiwi brands, but declined to comment further.

In a statement yesterday, Mondelez did not say how many expressions of interest had been received.

"Mondelez is reviewing the expressions of interest received and will be able to provide more information and updates in due course once these have been considered," a spokeswoman said.

The factory will close in March next year with the loss of about 360 jobs.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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