Economy

Local growers to continue 'historic link' with Unilever following Colman's closure

Local growers to continue 'historic link' with Unilever following Colman's closure

The partnership would see growers and Unilever jointly fund and develop a state-of-the-art facility near Norwich for mustard milling and mint processing.

Unilever took the decision after soft drinks maker Britvic said in October that it would close the Robinson's squash factory on a site shared with the Colman's plant.

Unilever said it will maintain the historic link with the city by opening a new production, packing and milling site in the area.

"These proposals will impact on 113 jobs in Norwich". However, local farmers in the Norwich area will continue a new "historic link" with Unilever, by retaining sourcing aspects with local mustard and mint growers.

"In terms of job opportunities, it is a curate's egg as there will be new jobs being created at the new milling facility in Norfolk and also at Burton on Trent". The company started making mustard from its present Norwich site in 1858.

A government spokesperson said: "The government is disappointed Unilever has made a decision to close its Norwich plant, though we welcome Unilever's commitment to mustard milling and mint production in Norwich".

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Trade union Unite said it is a "devastating day" for Norwich, "ending a tradition stretching back two centuries".

Some of the farming families - from Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire - have supplied Colman's for more than 100 years. "We are urging Unilever to look again at its business case for closure".

There will be no redundancies in Norwich before September this year. "The decision last month by Britvic to close its half of the site, which produces its Robinsons and Fruit Shoot brands, was unhelpful for the future of Colman's Mustard in Norwich - but we still don't believe that closure is the only option for the dedicated workforce".

Unions are urging Unilever to reconsider its plans to close the production site.

Jeremiah Colman started his mustard and flour business in 1814 in Stokes Holy Cross, four miles south of Norwich.

Colman's became part of Unilever in 1995 when it was purchased from Reckitt & Colman.

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