The new facility, in the Ringwood suburb of Melbourne, will bring 63 new jobs to the area, and is “home to the largest food R&D team in Australia, housing more than 100 food scientists, technologists and graduates,” said Victoria’s minister for manufacturing, David Hodget, adding that one of its core aims was to speed up development of food products meant for export to Asia.
"This state-of-the-art facility… will benefit companies across the sector, who will access its education, training and business development programmes.
"Additionally, in partnership with local universities, it will develop the next generation of food innovators, while also enabling collaboration with the [government’s research agency] to solve some of the food industry's most pressing challenges."
The opening was overshadowed by the announcement by Coca-Cola’s Australian bottler that shut its Bayswater plant, which is close to the new Mondelēz facility. CCA chiefs decided on its closure for economic reasons.
The company has been battling to return to earnings growth since reporting its profits would drop by 15% amid heightened competition with Pepsi, which is being sold as much as 33% cheaper than Coke. The April announcement led to a 33% fall in CCA’s share price, its worst since 1993.
“While we regret closing Bayswater, we have flagged driving greater efficiencies from our supply chain as part of our plan to return to growth, which is an imperative,” said group managing director Alison Watkins.
“Our policy provides for fair arrangements for those people affected, and we have an orderly transition plan to closure. “ The shut-down will take place gradually over the next 12 months.
Before the weekend, shares in CCA rallied in Sydney trading with their biggest jump in 16 months on the back of announcements by the company that it expected to see growth next year. “The combination of revenue and cost initiatives we have underway will restore the business to growth,” said Watkins.