I spent over 10 years working on Unilever’s fats and oils business. And now I’d be working for Upfield, if at all.
Unilever sold the margarine division to KKR in late 2017. The new spinoff company is called Upfield. This was all part of Unilever’s Monopoly playing strategy to avoid a merger with Kraft. Apparently they will give the money they got from KKR back to the shareholders.
I have heard from ex-colleagues in Canada that the Rexdale factory will be part of Upfield now.
A friend in the Netherlands informed me that the big fats and oils development group will relocate to the Nassaukade factory – a number will be downsized. Unilever is closing its R&D facility in Vlaardingen next year and relocating the remnants to Wageningen in the eastern part of the country.
Margarine was part of the Unilever story from the beginning – close to 90 years. But I guess the credible health story about polyunsaturated fats does not resonate with consumers any longer. Margarine sales were tanking and butter was on the upswing. Folks would rather have natural even if it’s not as good for you. Go figure.
The trans fat situation – it’s pretty bad and partially hydrogenated fats should be out of the food chain – has overwhelmed the low saturated fat story. It’s all marketing, science be damned.
Be that as it may, the big changes at Unilever have impacted a lot of lives. I hope as many of my former colleagues as possible can hold on to their jobs. I guess we’ll soon see.