The return of Arnott’s to manufacturing in New Zealand after 25 years is an encouraging move, says Raewyn Bleakley.

She was speaking after the company today opened a new 4000 square metre factory in Auckland that it expects will make 7.5 million packs of crackers and biscuits a year.

Arnott’s Group NZ country director, Mike Cullerne, said they made the decision to scale up local production when they acquired the Kiwi-founded gourmet savoury cracker brand 180degrees brand two years ago.

The decision to bring back local manufacturing was part of plans to mitigate supply chain disruption risks, he said.

“The benefit for us being able to build a factory in New Zealand is being able to tap into local manufacturing capability but also local suppliers.”

As proof of that, next month they will launch a number of new sweet biscuit products, including shortbread bites in partnership with local jam manufacturer and NZFGC member Barkers’ of Geraldine.

NZFGC Chief Executive Raewyn Bleakley said typically large food manufacturers prioritised economies of scale, which favoured taking manufacturing offshore, so it was encouraging to see a large food producer like Arnott’s bring back local manufacturing.

“It’s a really positive development to see refreshed interest in having manufacturing back in New Zealand from companies like Arnott’s.

“Recent challenges of the supply chain with sourcing ingredients and distribution made difficult during the pandemic had made some organisations rethink the importance of local relationships with suppliers and their impact on their environment.

“Those factors will be things that all companies are weighing quite carefully when making investment decisions in the current environment.

“Food manufacturing remains a difficult market, but local manufacturing should in theory mean more competitive prices, and there could be a trade-off of scale and higher costs if ingredients are imported.

“It has been a challenging period for the food manufacturing sector with Covid, with weather events, with really tight labour market conditions and uncertainty over future regulation both in employment and sustainability matters, but we have great entrepreneurs and passionate people in the industry who are demonstrating their ability to succeed and deliver great products even in tough conditions.”

Read the full Stuff report here