According to BN De Stem, food giant Unilever is pulling the plug on the longest running ice lolly in the Netherlands, the Raket (‘Rocket’).
BN De Stem suggests the Rocket is too Dutch for its own good. Unilever was only producing them for the Dutch market. The company, operating under the Ola brand in the Netherlands and Wall’s and Algida elsewhere, wants to streamline its production of ice cream flavours by reducing them from 450 to 90. As one observer said: “How much more streamlined than a rocket can you get?”
RTL Z claims that the story is an April Fools’ joke, citing “sources within Unilever”. Unlike any other April Fools’ joke I’ve seen, this one doesn’t refer to April however. The original source talks about May instead. Elle smells a rat, because why would a brand ditch a product that sells so well? So I decided to find out for myself, picked up the phone and called Unilever: turns out, their press department is conveniently unavailable for comment during the four-day Easter weekend.
Everybody agrees that if this really is an April Fool’s joke, it’s one of the lamest ever.
The news that Unilever is going to discontinue its traditional Dutch treat follows recent news that two major ‘bitterball’ manufacturers, Mora and Van Geloven, are now in foreign hands, and news from 2014 that aniseed cubes were discontinued by De Ruijter because the machine that made them could no longer be kept in repair.
Dutch-British food giant Unilever has decided to stop its attack on American company Hampton Creek for its eggless mayonnaise Just Mayo this week. Unilever claimed that Just Mayo was not actually mayonnaise as the real deal has eggs in it and that their logo with an egg on it was misleading.
Hampton Creek retorted that its product is called ‘mayo’ and not mayonnaise, while fans of vegan food and healthier eating responded badly to the food giant’s attack on an alternative quality product. Just Mayo uses yellow chick peas as a replacement and also makes eggless cookies that have not upset any big company so far. Hampton Creek was financially back by BIll Gates to the tune of 30 million USD, a man who probably knows a thing or two about rubbish lawsuits.
Unilever’s world brand mayonnaise Hellman’s has just started being sold in the Netherlands this year and ironically, it doesn’t meet the requirements to be called mayonnaise in this country, as it has less oil than the definition formulated by the Dutch Food Authorities.
Irony is alive! Lipton is currently running an ad campaign on TV with Dutch beauty Nicolette van Dam telling her fake mother how ‘regular’ their regular tea is and therefore still tasty. Their regular tea however is anything but regular, Keuringsdienst van Waarde discovered.
Presumably when Lipton says ‘regular’ it means ‘tastes just like the competition’s’, but consumer watchdog Keuringsdienst van Waarde seemed to suspect something more devious going on. They found little clumps of something that tasted like chewing gum (the flavour expert they consulted narrowed it down to Bazooka—man, that word is a time machine!) hidden among the tea.
After half an hour of fruitless phone calls and visiting experts—the tea expert explained that tea is made of leaves, not of clumps—the solution to the mystery was presented. Lipton apparently adds sugar to its tea to mask its mediocre (perhaps we should say ‘regular’) flavour. So that is how you can drink tea, no sugar, with sugar after all.
(I wrote down the adjectives in the Lipton commercial by the way, here they are: regular, regular, regular, good, lekker, lekker, regular, lovely, rich, smooth.)
(Photo by Evan Amos who released it into the public domain)
Chinese expatriates have been buying up large amounts of Dutch baby formula and shipping it to their families in China for the past few years.
After the melamine scares of 2008 and later, it appears that Chinese parents no longer trust the formula from their own brands, even if it is made by Dutch manufacturers. Apparently there is a scarcity of baby formula in the Randstad region. Not just the Netherlands but also Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand suffer from Chinese bulk purchases, Gelderlander wrote last week.
Manufacturers and supermarkets have asked Minister Sharon Dijksma of Economic Affairs to interfere, NRC says. Dijksma has asked the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority to study the grey market. Producers of formula have promised to increase production in the meantime.
According to retail expert Paul Moers the shortage of formula in Dutch supermarkets is not because of Chinese parents buying all the product. Moers says according to Gelderlander that Nestlé, Nutricia and Unilever can simply make more money by selling to Asian countries:
“Multinationals are focussed too much on profit. How can it be that the Netherlands, where the product is made, has a shortage of baby formula? Doing business should also be based on morality and ethics.” Moers used be a manager for Unilever in Asia.
Dunglish.nl, one of Orangemaster’s many ventures, posted this brilliant ad for Unox pea soup a while ago. In it, you see some sort of sales manager walk through a company cafeteria while holding a bluetooth-enabled phone conversation in that lingua franca of the Dutch business world, English with sprinklings of Dutch. When it matters though — that is, when he wishes to order pea soup — he switches to all-Dutch.
Hema’s famous smoked sausage is made by Unox in Oss, a disgruntled Unilever (Unox is owned by Unilever) employee told the Brabants Dagblad during the strike. Unilever and Hema have refused to comment on the comment.
Some 1,000 employees have come together in Rotterdam to try and get more say about Unilever’s future and want better working conditions, etc. All six manufacturing plants are on strike. And if the management pisses them off some more, who knows what culinary or cosmetic secrets will come out next.
If I had to guess which company made those sausages, Unox would be a likely candidate. The strike is news, but I’m not sure about the sausage bit. Smoke sausage is Dutch and was immortalised on a Dutch stamp this year.