KENNEBUNK, Maine — Tom’s of Maine, the company known for its natural toothpaste, is shifting its research and development activities from Kennebunk to its parent company’s facility in New Jersey.

The jobs will be relocated to Colgate-Palmolive Co.’s research facility in Piscataway, N.J.

Tom’s of Maine is a subsidiary of Colgate-Palmolive Co., which in 2006 purchased an 84 percent share of the company Tom and Kate Chappell founded in 1970.

The move will result in seven layoffs in Kennebunk, with the affected employees having the opportunity to apply for new and currently open positions in Piscataway and at Tom’s, according to Susan Dewhirst, a spokeswoman for Tom’s of Maine.

“This move builds on a successful ongoing partnership between the new product development teams in Maine and Piscataway and represents a long-term investment in innovation behind Tom’s of Maine and a focus on more rapidly bringing new natural products to market,” Dewhirst said in a statement sent to the Bangor Daily News on Friday.

The company’s commitment to natural ingredients and refusing to do animal testing will not change as a result of the move to New Jersey, she said.

Tom’s of Maine will continue to be headquartered in Maine, where it employs nearly 160 people in Kennebunk and its production facility in Sanford, Dewhirst said.

“While change can be difficult, this expansion helps strengthen the company for growth over the long term,” she said.

Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.