Questions over Mondelez motives

The union representing Cadbury workers and a Labour MP are questioning Mondelez's motives after the multinational announced it could not find anyone to make Kiwi sweets in New Zealand.

Mondelez said yesterday the sweet line, which includes Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps, would be made in Australia after an unsuccessful procurement process.

Securing sweet production in New Zealand would have saved up to 50 of the 350 jobs set to go when the Cadbury factory closes next year.

If it had happened, it was likely the jobs would have shifted to Oamaru.

It is understood Rainbow Confectionery was the only company to apply, but the Oamaru sweet-maker would not comment yesterday.

Etu industries director Neville Donaldson said he was sceptical about Mondelez's intentions.

''What was that exercise really about? Was it about trying to keep 10% of that production in New Zealand, or was it really about brand-protection and easing public anger over this closure?

''We had hoped for better, but it's no surprise things have turned out as they have, given Mondelez's record overseas,'' Mr Donaldson said.

''The question is, will [the New Zealand public] support Mondelez moving its operation overseas at the cost of Kiwi jobs, or should they buy Kiwi-made products and support jobs for Kiwi workers?''

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said Mondelez was ''never serious'' about keeping any production local.

''I made the decision in July to quit the working group set up to prioritise a Dunedin-based solution for third-party operation once Mondelez exits New Zealand.

''I believed it was untenable for me to continue as a member of that group, which I didn't believe had any practical role in achieving a constructive third-party production outcome for Dunedin. I have been proved correct,'' Ms Curran said.

Mondelez made it ''impossible'' for third-party bidders. The difficulties facing Jim O'Malley's community pledge drive was evidence the company had not welcomed prospective bidders, she said.

Dr O'Malley pulled out of the bid in June saying Mondelez's timeframes were too restrictive.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he believed the company's efforts were genuine.

''It is disappointing that a local manufacturer could not be found, although I believe Mondelez made a genuine effort to do so,'' he said in a statement.

Mondelez New Zealand country head James Kane said the company had made a significant effort in the past six months to find a manufacturer.

''Unfortunately, we only received one formal response to the [request for proposal] documents from a local supplier that was interested in manufacturing the full portfolio of Kiwi products in New Zealand,'' Mr Kane said.

''We've worked very closely with that supplier over the last six months to try and find a way for them to take on the work.

''However, the unique requirements of these products - particularly the marshmallow-based products - meant it simply wasn't possible,'' he said.

His team spent hundreds of hours trying to find a solution, including site assessments by technical experts.

''The iconic Kiwi products require particular technologies, production processes and skills, and very few manufacturers anywhere in the world could take on this work while continuing to match our product requirements,'' Mr Kane said.

eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

Comments

The product is not iconic. It is chocolate. Neither is it 'kiwi'.