18 Feb 2017

Unique kiwi lollies may be saved from deportation

1:49 pm on 18 February 2017

Unique kiwi lollies Pineapple Lumps and Jaffas could be saved from being deported to Australia, with an Oamaru company saying it would consider making them.

Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps are manufactured in Cadbury's Dunedin factory which is set to close.

Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps are manufactured in Cadbury's Dunedin factory which is set to close. Photo: Cadbury / Pascall

The sweets, which are made nowhere else in the world, are in danger of being manufactured in Australia after Cadbury announced the closure of its Dunedin factory, and the moving of production across the Tasman.

However, Cadbury's owner, the global food giant Mondelez (formerly Kraft), said it would make an exception for Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps if it could find a manufacturer to make them in New Zealand.

Oamaru company Rainbow Confectionery said it would consider picking up the baton, but was yet to be approached by Cadbury.

General manager Brent Baillie said the brands were kiwi icons and consumers would have a problem with them if they were not manufactured in New Zealand.

There was a value in products that were uniquely New Zealand, he said.

"It's like a meat pie. You can't go to every dairy in America and get a meat pie but in New Zealand, if they don't have mince pies, it's just not right."

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Rainbow Confectionary in Oamaru would consider making Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps, but it hasn't yet been approached by Cadbury. Photo: Rainbow Confectionery

Rainbow sold very few sweets under its own own brand, instead making them for labels like Countdown, Pams or the Warehouse.

It would be possible to make pineapple lumps and jaffas for Mondelez using the Cadbury recipe and branding, Mr Baillie said.

The company would have to weigh up if it made good business sense to make them but the brands were iconic, had a huge market share and it would be nice to give consumers what they wanted, he said.

Marketing and advertising veteran Mike Hutcheson said taking Jaffas and Pineapple Lumps offshore would be a disaster.

"It would go down in the annals of history like the size of the gingernuts getting smaller as soon as the Aussie accountants took over. It would kill the brand," he said.

In a world of increasing globalisation, there was a swing back towards local products with the craft beer trend a good example, he said.

Many New Zealanders strongly identified with the unique sweets - and rolling Jaffas down the aisle of a movie theatre was a right of passage for many, he said.

"Look what Whittakers have done to Cadbury. People are parochial, we are tribal and we want to hang on to our icons. I think they are more than just a sweet."

But the head of strategy at marketing company TRA, Colleen Ryan, said if the Jaffa and Pineapple Lumps brands were managed well, they could survive a made-in-Australia label.

"It could seem odd that it is made offshore but I suspect it will go away pretty quickly because the brand itself carries such favour with people that they'll continue to use the product."

Rainbow may also offer hope for some of the many workers affected by the move.

Mr Baillie said the company had recently undergone a capital expansion and would likely be able to offer some workers jobs.

"I was actually really sad for 350 or so employees whose jobs are in doubt. There's a lot of experience and skill there and a lot of history," he said.

But Mr Baillie said Rainbow had recently undergone a capital expansion and would likely be hiring staff soon.

"We've had biggest investment by the owners of the company since they purchased the business in 2001 and we've increased our capacity by 150 percent."

The company currently employs between 72 and 121 workers, depending on the season.

Oamaru's lolly trade underwent a similar change in 2001 after the then Regina factory was closed down after being bought by Nestle.

Three local businessmen later bought it - and all the old recipes - and reinvented it as Rainbow.

Mondelez said it was still consulting over the Dunedin closure, but conceded a change of heart was unlikely.