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Kraft Heinz cuts about 200 workers

August 29, 2016
Food & Drink

Kraft Heinz laid off about 200 employees in the U.S. and Canada on Thursday, including some in Chicago, as part of ongoing efforts to reduce costs, the company said.

In a statement, Kraft Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen called the layoffs a “difficult but necessary decision.” He declined to say how many jobs were cut from the company’s Chicago workforce, which totals more than 2,000 people. The food manufacturer, which is co-headquartered in Chicago’s Aon Center and in Pittsburgh, also has a research and development facility in Glenview.

“We regret the impact this decision has on employees and their families. We appreciate the many contributions our colleagues have made to our company, and, as always, we are committed to treating all employees with the utmost respect and dignity throughout this process,” Mullen said in the statement.

The layoffs are the latest wave of the thousands of positions that either have been or will be eliminated as Kraft Heinz tries to cut $1.5 billion in costs by the end of 2017. H.J. Heinz completed its purchase of Kraft Foods Group last July, forming Kraft Heinz. About a month later, the company laid off 700 workers at Kraft’s former corporate headquarters in north suburban Northfield.

Thursday’s layoffs followed moves by Kraft Heinz to integrate the two IT systems of the legacy companies and consolidate the U.S. business unit, Mullen said. Those efforts, which have occurred over the past 14 months, have allowed the company to “reinvest in our brands and business,” he said.

Kraft Heinz, which has 42,000 global employees, has worked to reduce costs and expand profit margins since the two companies merged last summer.

In November, the company announced it would move its Oscar Mayer and U.S. meats business from Madison, Wis., to Chicago, which was expected to add about 250 jobs to the Aon Center office. At the same time, Kraft Heinz also announced it would shut down seven North American manufacturing facilities over the next two years, which was expected to result in a loss of 2,600 manufacturing jobs at the company, including 700 in Madison.

Kraft Heinz moved its Chicago-area headquarters from Northfield to the Aon Center in January.

All laid-off employees have been notified, Mullen said. Kraft Heinz is offering severance packages, including a minimum of six months of salary and benefits, as well as outplacement services, he said.

By Greg Trotter

Source: Chicago Tribune

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