Unilever today (3 July) announced the signing of a “strategic partnership” with Dutch company Zwanenberg Food Group over the consumer goods giant’s meat products, soup and sauces factory in Oss, a city in the south of the Netherlands.
The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, will see Zwanenberg buy the plant and manufacture products under brands including Unox, Knorr and Bertolli, which Unilever will continue to own.
Unilever, which will remain responsible for the selling and marketing of the brands, emphasised the impact the agreement would have on the future of the Unox brand.
“Unox is and remains a very important and strong local brand for Unilever in the Netherlands. The decision to proceed was taken with the aim to grow the brand,” Conny Braams, the general manager of Unilever’s operations in the Benelux, said. “We expect to achieve significant benefits by leveraging our combined scale in Oss. The fact that Unox can use both the innovation and the investment power of ZFG reinforces the growth potential of the brand.”
The 325 staff working at the plant will move to Zwanenberg’s employment. The company is aiming to increase the site’s output, shifting 18,000 tonnes of meat production to the facility from an unnamed location by 2019.
Aldo van der Laan, Zwanenberg’s chairman, said: “The acquisition of the plant fits into ZFG’s strategy of further developing the business and building a wider range of foods, with the focus on long-life products. Furthermore, the new situation gives ZFG the opportunity to broaden the position in soups and sauces it currently primarily holds in the UK and the US, to the Netherlands and the rest of the European continent.”
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In April, Zwanenberg said it would decide in the next few months on whether to sell or retain and “invest” in its fresh foods business. Asked today if Zwanenberg had come to a decision, a spokesperson said: “Not yet.”