February 9, 2016

Unilever announces plans to expand New Century plant

Danedri Thompson
Unilever is churning change in southwest Johnson County. The Country Crock spread manufacturer announced plans to expand its New Century factory this afternoon.
The $152 million expansion will add 100 new jobs locally.  The Dutch-based company is the world’s largest manufacturer of vegetable spreads employing more than 10,000 people in the U.S. and 173,000 globally.
Operating 24-hours-a-day, the company’s 168 local employees manufacture 1.3 million tubs of Country Crock, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, Brummel and Brown and Imperial brand vegetable spreads each day.
Gov. Sam Brownback was on hand to make the announcement.
“I think the world kind of comes together in Kansas,” the Governor told a large crowd.
The expansion will add 447,929 square-feet to the existing plant, increasing its footprint by 50 percent.
Kees Kraythoff, president of Unilever North America, said the investment is part of the company’s plan to double the size of its business while halving the size of its environmental footprint.
“By creating a world-class manufacturing facility we are further investing in our core food brands, and we’re excited about the growth this will enable,” Kraythoff said in a press release.
The new construction will utilize a total system approach that places an emphasis on environmentally sustainable processes. Unilever achieved zero waste to landfill in all of its 26 North American facilities and manufacturing plants in 2013, and executives hope to sustainably source 100 percent of its agricultural raw materials by 2020.
Raj Nakum, Unilever supply chain vice president, envisioned a future with a farm located next to a wind-energized factory.
“It starts with the farmer,” Nakum said. “Hopefully one day we’ll have a really nice community farm here.”
As part of the celebration, Unilever officials gave Gov. Brownback a challenge coin. Traditionally emblazoned with a meaningful emblem, the coins are often used by members of the military as motivational tools and to promote morale.
Mike Smith, supply leader at New Century Spreads, said the coin is also used by Unilever to recognize employee accomplishments. Unilever challenge coins read, “Churning Challenge.”


  1. Judith Rogers says:

    Well, this business is getting a good deal on the price of water from the city of Gardner – they get to pay one-half of what the citizens have to pay.

    We get no property taxes on the land since Johnson County owns the land and it is tax exempt. We only get taxes on the building and it isn’t very much. We will see how the building appraised value will increase in the next few years as the addition is made. I still wonder if they are going to ask the County for Industrial Revenue Bonds to use for the cost of the expansion and if we will lose half of our taxes on that or more. I believe they should pay their full taxes just like citizens do since I know we will need it for maintenance of roads, police and fire, etc., etc. It truly gripes me these business entities get the cut rate on their water from Gardner and you have to wonder what other sweet deals they get on their utilities.

    The tax incentive for New Century the last I heard includes the following:

    1. A sales tax exemption on construction materials and services and on machinery and equipment.

    2. A one-time credit against the firm’s Kansas income tax liability of $1,000 for each $100,000 of qualified investment.

    3. A one-time credit against the firm’s Kansas income tax liability of $1,500 for each job created.

    Note: The combined income tax credits may not exceed 50% of the firm’s Kansas income tax liability in any given year. Any unused portion of credit may be carried over into succeeding years until the total credit is used.

    d. Utility Based Economic Development Incentives

    Kansas City Power & Light Company may provide a direct financial incentive to new and existing businesses which qualify based on their electric demand usage as outlined below:

    Economic Development Rider (New Customers)

    New customers having a demand usage of eighty (80) kilowatts or more will be eligible for a 25% reduction of the above demand charge and kilowatt hour charge for the first year of service, a 20% reduction the second year of service, a 15% reduction the third year of service, 10% reduction the fourth year, and a 5% reduction the fifth year of service.

    After the fifth year of service, the normal rates for the class of customer shall apply. (They probably get a cheaper rate than the citizens do and then to cut this cost even more for them for 5 years is outragous to me.)

    Other Incentives

    The Airport Commission may, at its discretion, add to the incentives contained within this policy.


    Since Brownback was there for the announcement, I feel almost sure that the good people of Kansas will be or already have kicked in more dollars for Unilever on behalf of the state of Kansas. All costs should be tallied and the cost for EACH of those 100 jobs should be fully recognized and taken into consideration. Do you think your government entities will be transparent enough to fully inform the citizens on this matter? I don’t. Cronyism government lives on and every deal costs the citizens – that is for sure.

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