Quebec cookie facility to close, throwing 454 people out of work

MONTREAL – The decision by international food giant Mondelez to close a cookie and cracker factory in Montreal by 2017 is final, a company spokeswoman said Thursday.

As a result, 454 jobs will be eliminated, with 95 per cent of the factory’s production moving to the Toronto area and the rest being handled by Mondelez operations in Portland, Ore.

Asked if Mondelez would change its mind if it received provincial government assistance, company spokeswoman Stephanie Cass called the decision “final.”

“Over the next few days and weeks, we look forward to sitting down with the union representatives to discuss severance arrangements,” she said.

Cass said the decision followed a company review of its supply chain and added Mondelez will maintain its activities in its five other Canadian factories.

Mondelez has used the Montreal facility to make Christie brand products such as Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers.

Economy Minister Dominique Anglade said the province didn’t receive a request from the company for financial help.

“We are very open at looking into what we can do with the company but I don’t think it will respond to their needs,” she said.

She said the government is “realistic” and wants to avoid “false hopes.”

The factory’s employees, who are represented by two unions, said they were shocked by the news.

“We learned of the decision about five minutes before everyone else,” said union representative Sylvain Gagne. “We weren’t expecting this and we didn’t have time to prepare our members.”

Gagne said he learned the Oreo production line will be shut down as soon as early January, resulting in the loss of 80 jobs.

Dave Chartrand, another union leader, criticized the company for not wanting to sit down with employees and come to a solution to keep the factory operating in Montreal.

The local chamber of commerce has asked to meet with Mondelez in order to ensure the 454 employees will be helped as they look for work.

Mondelez is based in the United States and was created after Kraft Foods spun off part of its holdings in 2012. Aside from the famous Oreo cookies, the company owns many well-known brands including Trident, Nabisco, Tang and Halls.