Unilever is to cease production at its plant in Röszke, SE Hungary, with 80% of the 190 workers affected by the planned group redundancies and 20% of them to be taken over by the new owner of the plant, Mezőker Ltd., Unilever said on Friday.
All workers will be guaranteed a job until the beginning of December, with the notice period for some of the employees starting at the beginning of December and for others at the end of March 2023, state news agency MTI was told.
Unilever will transfer nearly a third of its current product range in Röszke to Mezőker Ltd. for contract manufacturing, while the majority of the products will be transferred to its own Romanian and German plants and to a European contract manufacturing partner by the end of March 2023.
Mezőker Ltd., a Hungarian-owned food producer, has been a supplier of vegetable dehydrated products to Unilever for nearly three decades. The company aims to further strengthen its cooperation with Unilever by taking over the production of Delikát and some Knorr products. Mezőker has also expressed its intention to purchase the site in Röszke and the production equipment there.
Unilever pointed out that consumer trends have changed in recent years, with consumers preferring fresh food instead of pre-packaged products, and that the company needs to adapt to the changed market conditions by reorganizing its production capacity, concentrating production in larger plants.
"While a future partnership with Mezőker would provide a more sustainable future for our brands, we know that our announcement will also have a difficult impact on our 190 colleagues and 18 temporary workers at our factory in Röszke. We will inform our colleagues about our plans and work with employee representatives to develop solutions that will help our workers," Managing Director of Unilever Hungary Ltd., Alberto di Leo said.
The company will immediately begin discussions with the works council and union at the Röszke plant on issues affecting workers.
The statement stressed that Hungary remains a strategically important manufacturing base for Unilever, with two other production units operating here in addition to the Röszke plant: In Veszprém they produce ice creams, and in Nyírbátor they operate Europe's largest household detergent plant producing liquid detergents and cleaning products. Both sites produce for domestic and export markets. Unilever has invested EUR 65 million in the development of the two plants in recent years and plans to invest a further EUR 35 million in the near future.
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