'Corporate greed,' weak U.S. snack sales, some of both? -- Mondelez International plans to close the former Nabisco and Kraft bakery in Northeast Philadelphia and will shift production of Ritz, Oreo and other cookies and crackers to factories in Fair Lawn, N.J. and Richmond, Va., the East Hanover, NJ company said in this statement. The move will idle 350 workers "by early 2015," the company said.
Mass-market bakeries like bankrupt Hostess Foods have been shutting regional plants and automating their surviving works in recent years. Americans are cutting back on fatty snacks, while corporate owners push for higher profits from aging brand lines. Mondelez said it plans to invest $130+ million in its remaining plants. Cindy Waggoner, biscuit vice president at Mondelez, called the decision "bittersweet," though it's hard to see the sweet part for Philadelphia.
Bakery union leader John Lazar blamed "corporate greed" by Mondelez, a multinational, shareholder-owned firm that also owns the Cadbury and Trident brands, when I reported the threatened closing of the plant last fall.