‘We offered the company support’: New Brunswick on Dr. Oetker plant closure

GRAND FALLS, N.B. — New Brunswick’s government said Tuesday it was unsuccessful in its attempts to help Dr. Oetker keep its pizza manufacturing operations in the province.

The closure of the plant in Grand Falls, N.B., will take place at the end of May and see the elimination of 180 jobs.

An estimated 70 per cent of the production will move to its facility in London, Ont., while 30 per cent will shift to Lodi, N.J., the company said.

“While this is very disappointing, the community was expecting this day to come due to the fact the facility is only leased and that the company opened a state-of-the-art facility in Ontario in 2014,” Gilles LePage, New Brunswick’s minister of labour and employment, said in an email.

“We have offered the company support to keep them in New Brunswick, but they made it clear that this was a decision that could not be impacted by the provincial government.”

Dr. Oetker’s executive vice-president Cecile Van Zandijcke said in a statement Tuesday that the retail food climate in which the company operates in has become increasingly challenging in recent years both in terms of price and cost.

“There is nothing our Grand Falls employees could have done differently,” said Van Zandijcke.

“Food manufacturers have been facing severe economic pressures over the last few years and today’s market has become ultra-competitive. In order for Dr. Oetker to continue operating efficiently within this challenging environment, we needed to restructure our Canadian manufacturing operation.”

The company said that in addition to severance, employees’ group medical and dental benefits will continue until the end of the year.

It will also establish a $4-million fund to assist with job retraining and economic development in Grand Falls.

Dr. Oetker produces a variety of dessert mixes and baking ingredients and frozen pizzas under several different brands.

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