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Nestlé should diversify product range: GMB union

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2012-05-29  Origin: foodmanufacture  Authour: Sarah Hills  Views: 151
Core Tip: Food giant Nestlé should diversify the products and markets served by its Girvan factory in Scotland to help safeguard jobs, according to the GMB union.
Nestlé plans to upgrade one of two plants at its Ayrshire factory, which makes about 30,000t of chocolate crumb for brands including Kit Kat, while closing the other.

Following the announcement in March, the GMB has realised a report called “Nestle Girvan 2012 The GMB alternative to Downsizing”.  It has urged Nestlé to move into more dairy-related products to secure the site’s future.

Richard Leonard, GMB senior organiser, told FoodManufacture.co.uk they were looking at new and emerging products including beverage options. Other options such as luxury chocolate and white chocolate were also suggested.

Expected to be lost

Leonard added that Nestlé was cutting production capacity as well as costs. About 20 jobs (about a third of the workforce) were expected to be lost in the third quarter of this year.

The GMB also claims that labour costs at Girvan currently represent just 4.8% of total costs. It suggests other ways of saving on non-labour costs, such as energy reduction programmes.

The report stated: “In particular we have argued for an active policy of seeking third-party sales of chocolate crumb, so that the Girvan site isn’t solely dependent on one customer: Nestlé York.

“In the past, the site supplied a more diverse market, selling as far away as to Canada, and as close to home as Tunnocks in Uddingston.

“Other options like trading up into the luxury chocolate product market and an expansion into the white chocolate market also need to be actively explored.”

It adds that Nestlé should be using the skills, knowledge, and technology of the Girvan factory to adapt to changing trends. It suggests setting up the Nestlé Girvan Alternative Production Centre to explore such ideas.

Easily transferable

The GMB said that Nestlé, like other large companies, change product lines on a regular basis and skills are easily transferable from one product to another.

A spokesman for Nestlé told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We continue to have regular dialogue with our employees and their union representatives on the Nestlé proposal.”

The firm stated previously that although the workforce would be impacted, its proposal would place Girvan in a competitive position as well as “secure the long-term viability of the Girvan site and more than 80 local dairy farmers who supply milk to it”.

Mintel told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the premium chocolate market is showing signs of growth. But it is still hindered by the fact that half of users (47%) still only buy premium chocolate when buying a gift.

White chocolate remains “a minority presence” in the market, chosen by 8% of the UK adults who eat chocolate.

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