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Jonas Ekblom

Swedish journalist with breaking newsroom experience and prize-awarded photography. Currently reporter at Reuters in Washington D.C.

Recepient of the 2019 Overseas Press Club Scholar Award and Reuters Fellow. Top-of-class MS (Honors) graduate from Columbia Journalism School.

Previously at Swedish Public Radio (Sveriges Radio) and other outlets.

Legendary mustard maker closing Hudiksvall factory after being bought up by Scandinavian food conglomerate

Legendary mustard maker closing Hudiksvall factory after being bought up by Scandinavian food conglomerate

Originally published on 1 June 2018 in Swedish as “Graveleijs senap lägger ned fabriken i Hudiksvall – familjeföretaget köps upp av mjukostjätte”

Since 1932, family-owned Graveleijs Senap has produced food products and condiments in Hudiksvall. The company, whose iconic glass mustard jars have become a must for many during the holidays, is being bought by Scandinavian food conglomerate Kavli. It will close its Hudiksvall factory and will move all its production to Eslöv.

“I felt that it was time,” said Mats Graveleij, a third-generation mustard-maker in the Graveleij family. He explained that there was no interest among his children to keep the company in the family for a fourth generation.

Graveleij added that he is “somewhat torn” about selling the family business. As recently as 2012, he said in an interview that he had no plans to sell the company.

Norway-based food conglomerate Kavli has in the last years grown its portfolio of mustard and condiment brands – Västervikssenap, Johnnys and Hultberg senap are just three brands the company currently owns. From now, Graveleijs will also be a part of this lineup.

For many, Kavli, which has an annual revenue of more than three billion SEK, is synonymous with its soft cheese offerings. That Kavli will take over as owner also means that the production in Hudiksvall will cease. The Hudiksvall factory has produced around 500,000 to  600,000 jars of mustard yearly. Graveleij himself will also leave the company.

“I will not longer have anything to do with the brand,” he said.

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The production of Graveleij mustard will move to Eslöv, the southern Sweden city where Kavli currently produces its other mustard brands. It is not the first time it has acquired a smaller manufacturer, after which it has usually increased the brands’ product offerings.

“Yes, Kavli has grand plans with the brand,” said Graveleij on the question of whether the new owner has similar plans to develop new products under the Graveleij name.

The CEO of Kavli, Gerhard Bley, confirmed those ambitions and divulged some of the other plans it has with the brand.

“We see great potential with the brand and hope to develop it with more products, packaged in different ways,” Bley said.

He explained that Kavli can take the respected brand “to the next level” by using a distribution platform that spans Scandinavia.

On the question of why it was closing the Hudiksvall factory, his response were that Kavli would struggle to keep such a relatively small factory running.

Buying Graveleijs mustard, for many a staple condiment during Christmas, is a step in Kavli’s ambition to become a major player during the holiday season.

“We’re going to be king at Christmas dinner with Graveleijs,” said Bley.

In addition to the numerous mustard brands under Kavli control, the conglomerate also owns several yogurt, cheese, soup, sauce and milk brands. Graveleij will officially come under the Kavli umbrella on September 3, and the Hudiksvall factory will close sometime this summer.

(Photos: Archive photos courtesy of Hudiksvalls Tidning)

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