June 7, 2017

In Australia, Food Factory Plant Gets Ready for Closure

More than 30 employees from the Sanitarium Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia, factory have assumed new roles elsewhere within the company as the factory progresses toward closure in August 2018.

When the closure was announced in 2015 employees were offered first chance at opportunities to transfer within the company and 31 have taken up this option. A further 37 individuals have accessed all or part of a AUD 1,000 allowance to assist with training for work elsewhere.

Todd Saunders, executive general manager for Sanitarium’s Australian and New Zealand operations, acknowledged the significance of the transition for staff.

“This change represents a significant impact for our people who have faithfully produced quality products in Cooranbong for many years,” he said.

“This change represents a significant impact for our people who have faithfully produced quality products in Cooranbong for many years.”

“The team members are doing all of us proud as they continue showing their passion and dedication during this challenging process. Please remember our staff in your thoughts and prayers as they begin to make the difficult transition in their work and personal life.”

Sanitarium has also confirmed that the planned process of completing production of loose cereal products, including Light ‘n’ Tasty, Cornflakes and Granola, within the Australian market is nearly complete. Staff are working through the transfer of Weet-Bix Bites technology to the Sanitarium Brisbane site and the setup of new Weet-Bix factory lines at Berkeley Vale, New South Wales.

A Long Transition

The three-year transition period, which started in 2015, is seeking to relocate the Cooranbong site to its larger Berkeley Vale factory.

According to a Newcastle Herald newspaper report after the closure announcement was made two years ago, the company’s general manager Todd Saunders said the long transition sought to give its employees “years of visibility.’’

‘‘We wanted to give our people a three-year window of visibility so that they can either transfer to the Berkeley Vale site, or have time to retrain and transition into other employment,’’ Saunders told the newspaper.

At the time, Saunders explained that it was not a decision taken lightly. ‘‘It was an incredibly difficult decision to make but the reality of modern manufacturing is that the building in Cooranbong is not suitable to invest in for the future,’’ he told the Herald.

The Cooranbong factory was built in 1937, but the site dates back to Sanitarium’s original factory from 1899, when the company produced peanut butter and granola.

The company shared that the move is being supported with an estimated AUD 50-million investment into Sanitarium’s operations. Sanitarium also stated that it continues to work with site owners, the South Pacific Division region of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, on plans for future use of the Cooranbong site.

With additional information from the Newcastle Herald.