American food company treats parliament 'with contempt'

Kraft was criticised for closing its Somerdale factory
Kraft was criticised for closing its Somerdale factory

By Ian Dunt

Kraft, the American food manufacturer whose hostile bid for Cadbury upset many consumers in Britain, has been accused of treating parliament with "contempt".

A Commons report into the company criticised it as "arrogant", "dismissive" and called its attitude "unacceptable".

The report marks a new low point in the company's reputation in the UK, with MPs feeling particularly aggrieved at the failure of CEO Irene Rosenfeld to appear for questioning despite three separate invitations.

"I don't know how Kraft behave in America, but if this is a sample of it then I find it just totally unacceptable and it is a lesson to other companies under hostile bids," said Conservative MP Brian Binley.

The committee said the decision to send its executive vice-president and two regional presidents instead of the CEO showed the company's "dismissive attitude to a national parliament".

Kraft faced a barrage of criticism for closing a Somerdale factory a week after the take-over, despite promises during bidding that it would remain open.

But the business, innovation and skills committee actually found the company had been living up to many of its commitments since the takeover.

"They actually do appear to be living up to their commitments, and you would think they would want to come along and proclaim that from the rooftops," he said.

"Instead they are taking this surly attitude of saying: 'This is all too trivial for the chief executive, I'll send my underlings along to deal with it'. It's just not acceptable.

"I can't speculate about the motives of Irene Rosenfeld, but I can say that if she is employing public relations advisers - and I think she is - then quite frankly she should sack them."

The company offered a two-year guarantee for jobs at the Bourneville factory, but has not extended that offer
"The facts show that Kraft has been an excellent steward of Cadbury," the company said in a statement.


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