Unilever closes its Knorr factory in Alsace

After having sold, in the fall of 2020, its site in Saint-Vulbas, in Ain, the Unilever group announced on Thursday March 25 the abandonment of its site in Duppigheim (Bas-Rhin), specializing in the production of soups. and sauces, by the end of the year. In question, the structural decline of the market: in France, the consumption of industrial soups would have fallen by 26% between 2012 and 2019, estimates the management. In fact, the Knorr plant is only operating at 40% of its capacity, and the jump recorded in 2020 did not last.

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Unilever is committed to reclassifying 70 of the 261 site employees within its other sites, in Chevigny (Côte-d’Or), Saint-Dizier (Haute-Marne) and Compiègne (Oise). The production of liquid soups intended for the national market which represents a little more than half of the activity of the Alsatian site will be subcontracted, the group being currently looking for a service provider in France. The packaging of dehydrated products will be entrusted to other sites of the group in Western Europe.

“A tragedy for the employees”

For employees, the announcement had the effect of a hammer blow. “The agenda for the CSE meeting was about reorganization, but no one imagined a decision of this magnitude. And the figures we were presented with are the ones we see every month. Our production tool works. It is true that we have to adapt to the consumer, but the group could have innovated for that ”, considers Olivier Dietrich, CFTC delegate and spokesperson for the factory’s inter-union. “The desire to ensure the survival of the site no longer existed. It has been years since there was any real investment, completes Martial Schwartz, Force Ouvrière union representative. The concern is that many employees have spent their entire careers here; I don’t see them moving to Saint-Dizier or Dijon. “

Knorr is the second largest employer in this village of 1,600 inhabitants, with an industrial zone with nearly 2,500 jobs, including the 800 jobs generated by the Lohr group

“The problem is both industrial and marketing. We have tried everything, but the fixed costs of the Duppigheim plant are too high and this threatens the group’s other activities. The investments that we should make today to convert the site would mean less to innovate in the brand ”, retorts the management of Unilever. The group is looking for buyers for all or part of the site and negotiations concerning the social plan will start on April 6.

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