A sweet future depends on research opportunity

It’s great that Mondelez, who now own Cadbury, have announced a further £15 million investment at Bournville in addition to the £80 million programme since 2014.

It means production of Dairy Milk is coming home with workers gearing up to produce 125 million bars per year.

Some like to say Dairy Milk doesn’t taste the same since they changed the recipe. It’s actually unchanged since the product launch in 1905 and each bar still includes a glass and a half of fresh milk from British or Irish farmers.

I’m worried about employment as we adjust to Brexit and accommodate the ravages of the pandemic so it’s wonderful that this decision will secure existing positions and also result in 40 seasonal jobs being converted to permanent posts.

I’ve always been optimistic about Bournville because of the excellent workforce and the decision to maintain research and development. The plant is now the research centre for chocolate development across the world. There can be real synergy when research and production are co-located.

That’s why the Chancellor’s got to support research and innovation in his budget. Times are hard and savings on research might be tempting but that investment is the best way to secure jobs and develop green industries and products for the future.

As the city of a thousand trades, we have a proud history but it’s by building on research at Birmingham Health Innovation Campus, Wolverhampton’s Innovative Product Development Centre and Lucideon up in Stoke-on-Trent, that this region will have a great future.

A crucial political decision will be the location of the UK’s first ‘gigafactory’. It must be in the West Midlands where we have an established car industry and can profit from the cutting-edge battery research at Warwick Manufacturing Centre.

Those in charge of the West Midlands economy should hammer down the door of No. 10 and demand this outcome. Bournville has led the way with good news for the area but there’s much more that can be achieved. We need a budget that supports research and development and real foresight when it comes to where the new manufacturing opportunities are located.

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