Kraft visits Cadbury’s research firm

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Rssl, Kraft foods

A delegation from Kraft is visiting food analysis, research and consultancy firm Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) today (February 8) following...

A delegation from Kraft is visiting food analysis, research and consultancy firm Reading Scientific Services Ltd (RSSL) today (February 8) following Kraft’s takeover of Cadbury, Food Manufacture​ has learned.

Although it is self-supporting financially, RSSL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cadbury, and staff have been anxiously waiting to hear what Kraft’s plans for the business are.

A Kraft spokesman said the visit was one of many set up to help bosses “get a better understanding of what’s the most effective network” for the new Kraft/Cadbury business.

He said: “Our combined business has a number of sites in the UK, including Reading, and we clearly need to visit as many as we can to get a better understanding of what’s the most effective network for the combined business. Realistically, it will take several months to decide how best to proceed.”
Reputation for research
When RSSL was established in the late 1980s, its function was to provide technical outsourced solutions for Cadbury and some other companies. However, RSSL now conducts analysis, consultancy, product development and training work for the food and drink, pharmaceutical, healthcare and consumer goods industries. It has also built a strong reputation for its work on allergen management and testing, investigating food contamination and training.
Its site in Reading is now known as the Reading Science Centre, comprising RSSL and a dedicated Cadbury research team, which has experts in analytical, sensory and consumer science, nutrition, and novel processing technologies.
Staff fear for the future
RSSL chief executive Kay O’Donnell declined to comment, but sources close to the firm said there was a lot of uncertainty about the future. One said: “If I was guessing, it may be sold off.”
The fact that Kraft was planning a visit to RSSL so soon after the takeover was not in itself significant, however, added another source: “When you’ve been working on a deal for as long as this, you talk to everyone you can in the first four or five days and then you aim to implement as much as you can in the next 90 days.”
While Kraft has a large research and development centre in Munich, which houses experts in food chemistry, microbiology, quality assurance and sensory testing and research, it “does not really own anything equivalent to RSSL”, he claimed.
Meanwhile, the future for staff working at Cadbury’s factories in the UK and Ireland also remains uncertain. While Kraft does not have a UK chocolate factory, it operates a number of large chocolate factories in Europe including sites in Poland, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Belgium, many of which have spare capacity.

Kraft has already backtracked on an earlier pledge to retain production at Cadbury's Keynsham chocolate factory near Bristol (which Cadbury had earmarked for closure), prompting outrage from union bosses.

Cadbury's plans to close the plant were so far advanced that it would be "unrealistic" to reverse them, said Kraft boss Irene Rosenfeld, who told journalists last week that the UK would be a “net beneficiary” of the takeover in terms of manufacturing jobs.

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