A big-budget purchase of several iconic food brands in 2013 will mean up to 40 workers at Unilever’s Tatura plant will be out of a job by the end of this year.
Millions of jars of pasta sauces with the labels Raguletto, Five Brothers and Chicken Tonight are sold in Australian supermarkets each year, and until 2013 they were brands owned by Unilever.
In Australia the popular brands are produced at Unilever’s facility at Tatura, even after Unilever sold the Australian ownership of the brands to a food manufacturer in the United Kingdom — Symington’s Ltd — in 2013.
After the 2013 deal Unilever had the contract to produce the brand for Symington’s, but last year Symington’s sold off the brands to Simplot Australia.
In December last year, Simplot Australia informed Unilever that it wanted to produce the popular brands in-house, and that they would no longer be made at Tatura’s Unilever facility.
A Unilever spokesperson said production of the brands would leave the Tatura plant in April.
‘‘Unfortunately this change will result in a reduction of up to 40 roles at our Tatura site, which we are looking to manage on a voluntary basis and will be phased until the end of the year,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘‘We recognise the impact this has on those employees affected and we are focused on supporting them, including offering outplacement support to help find new employment.’’
Former Greater Shepparton councillor Kevin ‘Gunna’ Ryan said the job losses would hit the town hard.
‘‘Forty jobs is a lot of jobs for a town of 3500 people,’’ Mr Ryan said.
He said most people in the town would know someone who worked at Unilever, and that the job losses would have a flow-on effect on the rest of the town.
‘‘When you take 40 jobs out it hurts the football club, it hurts the netball club, it hurts the local economy. Some families will possibly have to shift.’’