CHICAGO — Mondelez International earlier this month said it is considering closing two biscuit manufacturing plants on the East Coast as part of a broader plan to evolve its US biscuit manufacturing footprint. The plants being considered for closure are located in Fair Lawn, NJ, and Atlanta.
According to Mondelez, the two sites are no longer strategic assets from a geographic footprint perspective, and the company would be better fit to serve customers and consumers through strategically-situated baking plants on each of the two coasts and in the Midwest. In addition, both the Atlanta and Fair Lawn facilities face “significant operational challenges, including aging infrastructure and outdated production capabilities, which would require significant investment to bring them to the modernized state required for the future,” Mondelez said. The Fair Lawn facility has been open since 1958.
Instead, Mondelez said it plans to shift its focus to its strategically located and operationally advantaged sites, including plants located in Richmond, Va., Chicago/Naperville, Ill., and Portland, Ore. The plants in Virginia, Illinois and Oregon would remain the “backbone” of Mondelez’s US biscuit manufacturing, the company said, and would continue to make Nabisco cookies and crackers.
The sites also would be complemented by proven US-based, high-quality external manufacturing, which has been an important part of the company’s US biscuit manufacturing network for many decades, the company noted.
“The way consumers are shopping and snacking is changing rapidly, and meeting these evolving needs requires us to make our products in more flexible, agile and efficient ways,” said Glen Walter, executive vice president and president, North America, at Mondelez. “As part of our commitment to robust US manufacturing, we have invested nearly $700 million in our US biscuit bakeries since 2012. Despite these investments, we are looking for our US biscuit manufacturing footprint to evolve in order to accelerate innovation and growth so that we can continue to strengthen our leadership in snacking.
“Given our understanding of demand and consumption patterns, we need to focus and allocate our resources to those sites and capabilities that are best able to meet our future needs. If we move forward with the decision being considered, we recognize it would unfortunately impact employees who work in our Fair Lawn and Atlanta bakeries. We do not take this lightly and are committed to supporting them through the potential transition.”
Mondelez said the closing of the Fair Lawn and Atlanta plants remains subject to discussions between the company and the unions representing the plants.
Mayor Kurt Peluso of Fair Lawn, in a Nov. 16 Facebook posting, said, “The Nabisco plant has been a staple in Fair Lawn for decades, the smell of fresh baked cookies is part of Fair Lawn. Those cookies mean hundreds of jobs for our residents and surrounding communities and we will continue to do everything we can to keep Mondelez in Fair Lawn.”
Any proposed closings would not likely occur before the middle of 2021, Mondelez said.