Clegg praises global brand’s steel city move

Oreo biscuits roll off the Sheffield production line. Picture by Adam Fradgley
Oreo biscuits roll off the Sheffield production line. Picture by Adam Fradgley
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AMERICAN giant Mondelez International has brought the manufacture of its Oreo biscuits to the UK for the first time with the launch of a new production line in Yorkshire.

Deputy Prime Minister and MP for Sheffield Hallam, Nick Clegg, said that Mondelez International’s £6m investment in biscuit manufacturing in Sheffield represents “a huge boost” for the city and the UK.

Mondelez International, a confectionery, food and beverage group with annual revenues of around $36bn, said that the investment will safeguard 70 jobs. It also marks the first time any of the group’s biscuit manufacturing has been carried out in the UK.

The new manufacturing line will produce both Oreo and BelVita biscuits for the UK, Ireland and other European markets. Previously, Oreos sold in the UK were made in Spain, while Belvita biscuits were made in France and the Czech Republic.

Mr Clegg, who officially opened the new biscuit line, said: “Bringing the Oreo biscuit production line to the UK for the first time is great news for Sheffield and adds Oreos to the global brands we proudly tag ‘Made in Sheffield’.”

Mr Clegg said that the investment in the new line, which can produce more than a million Oreos in 24 hours, gives Sheffield employees the skills to work on yet another global brand.

The Sheffield factory, which currently employs around 400 people, already manufactures brands including Trebor, Bassett’s and Maynards. The Oreo brand, which has now been added to the mix, is a chocolate biscuit with a cream centre, while Belvita is a range of biscuits for breakfast.

Maurizio Brusadelli, president of the UK and Ireland at Mondelez International, said that the opening of the new Oreo line at Sheffield “clearly signals the importance of the UK as a manufacturing base” for the company.

“We know that Britain is a nation of biscuit lovers – it is currently the biggest biscuit market in EU. In addition, our Sheffield factory is currently the largest sugar confectionery plant in Europe, and our employees here have the manufacturing expertise we need to turn their hands from sweets to biscuits.

“This investment is a first step – we hope to follow it with further investment and innovation in biscuits.”

Mondelez International, which has operations in more than 80 countries, saw total UK biscuit sales rise to £125.2m in 2012 from £99.9m in 2011. The group declined to reveal figures on its overall UK performance.

Ian Dearn, head of manufacturing at the Sheffield site, told the Yorkshire Post: “First and foremost, the Mondelez International biscuit business in Europe is growing very quickly, and in particular in the UK we are seeing phenomenal growth on our biscuit lines, and in particular Oreo and BelVita, so from a business perspective it makes sense to bring biscuit making capability to the UK.

“Why Sheffield? We have a favourable infrastructure which allows us to bring this investment to market quickly, but predominantly and overwhelmingly it’s the skills that we have here, it’s the experience that we have here and the positive engaged culture that our workforce gives us day in day out.”

He said that the opening of the new line represents an important investment in the local community, which will “not only add another string to our manufacturing bow, but also give us the opportunity to create new partnerships with local suppliers for the ingredients to create this iconic brand”.

The new oven, which will bake the Oreo biscuits, is one of the biggest in the Mondelez International network, and will produce three tonnes of Oreos per hour. 

In preparation for the start of production, employees at Sheffield have received training at another European biscuit facility in Spain and at Mondelez International’s biscuit research and development centre in Saclay, Paris.

David Blunkett, MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “It’s good to see this investment by Mondelez International in the local area, which will undoubtedly help maintain Sheffield’s position as a premier manufacturing city and complement the other famous brands produced here. I am pleased that Oreo will now be manufactured in Sheffield.”

As the biscuit market expands, Mondelez International said that the Sheffield site will become the centre of its UK biscuit operation. The company comprises the global snacking and food brands of the former Kraft Foods Inc. following the spin-off of its North American grocery operations last year. Its portfolio includes brands such as Cadbury, Toblerone, Carte Noire, Kenco and Trident.