Unilever has announced the decision to transfer the manufacture of its Weis line of ice creams from Toowoomba in Queensland to its Minto site in New South Wales.
The move will result in the closure of its Toowoomba manufacturing facility in December 2020.
The announcement follows an extensive review of Unilever’s Australia and New Zealand ice cream business in which increased competition and cost pressures were revealed. Unilever said the move was necessary to ‘ensure a long, sustainable future for the historic Weis brand’.
93 jobs will be impacted by the decision to relocate, however according to the consumer goods company there will be ‘opportunities available should employees wish to transfer to other parts of the Unilever business’.
Unilever acquired the Australian ice cream business Weis – the maker of the iconic Fruito Bar – in August 2017, and the Queensland factory has produced the brand’s products for more than 60 years.
Unilever Australia and New Zealand CEO Clive Stiff said: “We did not anticipate this decision when we acquired Weis from the Weis family in 2017. It was our firm intention to keep manufacturing at Toowoomba, which is why we have made major investments in the site over the past two and a half years.
“However, the ice cream market – in terms of costs, competition and distribution channels – has changed very quickly and pressure on our business has significantly increased.
“After an extensive review, it’s become clear that consolidating our Australian ice cream manufacturing operations at Minto is necessary to achieve the benefits of scale and ensure continued strong on-shore manufacturing.
“We are committed to providing consumers with the same exceptional Weis products with the same high-quality natural ingredients. Queensland will also remain a very important part of the Weis brand, and we will continue to support businesses and farmers throughout the state by retaining local fruit sourcing.”
Stiff added: “We have spoken to the Weis family and we appreciate their deep disappointment, and we understand this is not something they would have foreseen when they sold the business to Unilever.”
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