More biscuits heading to ‘Bassetts’ site

Oreos emerging from the new production line at Mondelez International's Wadsley Bridge plant in Sheffield.
Oreos emerging from the new production line at Mondelez International's Wadsley Bridge plant in Sheffield.
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Mondelēz International is planning to introduce a second range of biscuits at its Sheffield plant, within two months of starting to manufacture Oreos, the world’s biggest biscuit brand.

The Owlerton-based plant, which has been making confectionery for more than a century, will start making Belvita breakfast biscuits in August.

The introduction of biscuit manufacturing to the plant, originally famous for making Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts and Jelly Babies, has meant some significant changes.

“This site has been manufacturing candy for over 110 years and we still have a very strong, vibrant business within candy, manufacturing about 40,000 tonnes across a range of iconic products – things that are recognisable to most UK confectioners,” says Ian Dearne, head of manufacturing at the site.

“Making biscuits is a vastly different process. We have been very fortunate to have a significant number of colleagues on the Sheffield site who volunteered to retrain, to learn how to make biscuits and to work in a bakery.

“We have been able to make the transition a lot easier because of the global scale of Mondelēz International. We have been able to arrange visits to sister plants in both Spain and Portugal as well as having colleagues going to the group’s research and development centre in Paris.”

Mondelēz International employs around 460 people in Sheffield and says the introduction of the biscuit line is safeguarding 70 of those jobs.

Mr Dearne says Mondelēz International is seeing “fantastic growth” in demand for biscuits in Europe and, particularly, the UK.

“We have seen that growth at its most positive for Oreo and Belvita, a breakfast biscuit which we will start making later this year,” says Mr Dearne.

“Oreo is the biggest biscuit brand in the world, worth about £1.3 billion, and was introduced to the UK consumer in 2008. It is already worth £22 million in the UK and growing by 16 per cent, year on year.”

Mondelēz International has invested around £6 million in the new biscuit making plant at its Owlerton plant, which also makes well-known brands like Bassetts Liquorice Allsorts, Maynard’s Wine Gums, Jelly Babies and Trebor Extra Strong and Soft Mints.

The plant is also making Sour Patch Kids, a brand of sweets which Ian Dearne says is phenomenally successful in the US and which Mondelēz hopes will be equally successful in the UK.

Despite the economic downturn, Ian Dearne says the Sheffield plant is doing very well.

“I would say we are seeing very good growth – in biscuits in particular,” he adds.