This article first appeared in Convenience and Impulse Retailing, authored by Tom Oakley-Newell
Unilever Australia has invested $9.5 million into its Western Sydney facility, which will see it become the first manufacturer in Australia to produce laundry capsules.
The investment at the North Rocks facility will see the installation of state-of-the-art processing and packaging machinery, complimenting previous investments in technology at the plant, including ‘cobots’ (collaborative robots) and laser guided vehicles (LGVs).
Unilever factory director Andrew Devlin said recent times have reinforced how important a strong, sovereign manufacturing industry is for Australia.
“With unprecedented supply chain pressures, investing in our local facilities and people has never been more important to ensure we remain future-fit and capable of delivering some of Australia’s favourite laundry brands – Omo and Surf – which are used by over three million households across the country,” he said.
Unilever has employed nine new full-time employees to support the expanded operations and over 20 local businesses are supplying the raw materials and packaging required to make the capsules.
“With new technology and processes, comes the need for new skills. We’ve worked hard as a team to build future fit capabilities so we can lead innovation locally and ensure Australians have access to the best products on the market,” Devlin added.
The popularity of the capsule format is growing because it achieves a more powerful wash by combining different enzymes which previously could not be combined in liquid or powder formats.
Unilever A/NZ head of homecare Lorna Ash said homecare products now account for nearly $700 million sales per year in Australia.
“While laundry capsules are a relatively new format in Australia, demand is growing rapidly at 57 per cent in the last year. On-shoring production has given us flexibility to tailor the capsules to suit Australian preferences, driving further adoption and future-proofing our legacy in Australia for years to come,” Ash said.
Capsules are also more sustainable, using 80 per cent less water in production and weighing a quarter of a typical two litre laundry liquid bottle, making them more efficient to transport.
“This is all part of our Clean Future strategy to fundamentally change the way our cleaning and laundry products are created, manufactured and packaged, ensuring they are kinder to the planet and more convenient, while still delivering the same unbeatable results,” Ash added.