Sugar cookies are a relatively easy cookie to make at home, even without a mixer. Leave out the baking powder for sharp edges.
FAIR LAWN — The Mondelēz International plant, also known as the Nabisco factory, has towered over Route 208 for a half-century, spreading the unmistakable aroma of baking cookies far and wide.
But the plant is being considered for closure, Laurie Guzzinati, a Mondelēz executive, confirmed Tuesday. On Nov. 12, Mondelēz met with unions and employees across the state to discuss options being weighed, said Guzzinati, the company’s senior director of corporate and government affairs in North America. In addition to the Fair Lawn factory, an Atlanta plant is being considered for closure.
Mondelēz International makes classic cookies and crackers under the Nabisco brand, including Oreos and Chips Ahoy, Nilla Wafers and Ritz Crackers.
The discussion comes as the company focuses on strategic geographic sites, Guzzinati said.
“If we were to move forward with this, the East Coast presence would be in our facility in Richmond, Virginia; our Midwest presence would be Chicago and Naperville, Illinois; and on the West Coast, Portland, Oregon,” Guzzinati said.
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She said Mondelēz is far from making a decision, and the Fair Lawn plant is still operating as usual. That’s small comfort to local officials, who are urging the company to keep the plant humming.
Fair Lawn Mayor Kurt Peluso is most concerned about the potential loss of jobs.
“We have people who live in Fair Lawn who work at the plant, as well as a lot of people from surrounding communities,” Peluso said, “and not just people who live in New Jersey — people from New York and Pennsylvania. It’s going to have a tri-state impact.”
The Fair Lawn site is a three-shift bakery, with salaried and hourly employees.
Peluso said a shutdown would affect other local businesses and that workers visit restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-Wyckoff, also strongly urged Mondelēz to spare the plant and its 600 employees.
“They have been loyal to the company for more than six decades, and worked multiple shifts during the height of the crisis, putting their own health on the line,” he said.
On Monday, Mondelēz representatives met with Gottheimer and Peluso, who said keeping the factory open is a top priority for the governing body.
Guzzinati said closures, if they were to take place, would begin in the middle of 2021.
The North American headquarters for Mondelēz is in East Hanover, and in addition to its workers in Fair Lawn, the company has 1,500 employees across the state. “The company is committed to the U.S. and N.J.,” Guzzinati said.
She said the company overall is performing well during the pandemic, as people stuck at home find themselves snacking more. The share price Tuesday was $58.54, not far off its 52-week high of $59.96.
“This is really about the focus on our manufacturing network to support our business now and in the future,” Guzzinati said. “The bakery in Fair Lawn has significantly outdated infrastructure and manufacturing capability.”
The factory in Fair Lawn opened in 1958, and the 110-foot building is the tallest structure in the borough.
“One of the best things about growing up here in Fair Lawn is the town smells like cookies,” Peluso said, “As you get older you realize that smell equates to jobs and opportunities.”
Shaylah Brown is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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