Job cuts threaten hundreds

Two meat companies are to cut up to 750 jobs as part of restructuring programmes designed to cut costs and deal with over-capacity and competition.

Cranberry Foods confirmed up to 400 jobs are at risk at its plant in Abergavenny, Wales, just days after Tulip announced it is to cease production of fresh pork and bacon at its Thetford factory, with the loss of up to 350 jobs.

Cranberry is considering shifting production at its turkey plant to Hollybank factory in Derbyshire, which would see 520 staff cut to 120.

If this goes ahead, slaughtering and processing at Abergavenny would cease, leaving only a packing operation.

Cranberry's joint managing director, Andrew Lewins (pictured with fellow joint md David Horn), blamed cheap turkey imports from Brazil and Poland: "Imports now mean there is a lower demand for UK-reared turkey," he said.

"While this restructure would mean the loss of approximately 400 jobs at Abergavenny, offset partly by the creation of approximately 140 jobs at Hollybank, the net job loss suggested by the review is an unfortunate consequence of the existing global food industry."

Meanwhile, Union representatives are in negotiations with Tulip over the potential 350 job losses in Thetford.

The company said that despite significant investment in the factory over recent years, it has not been able to make the Thetford operation profitable and is now proposing to transfer production to its sites in Cornwall, Westerleigh and Tipton.

Tulip will continue to produce cooked bacon and fried products at Thetford.

Peter Judge, managing director of Tulip's north-east division, said: "While we have tried very hard to return the site to profitability over recent years, it is over 40 years old and has inherent infrastructure and environmental issues

that make it uncompetitive in today's marketplace."

Judge added: "Consolidation is critical if we are to establish Tulip as the lowest-cost producer in the UK.

"We have invested significantly in first-class production facilities around the country and, as a result of the proposed consolidation, we will be able to offer our customers excellent facilities built around customer and consumer needs."

A 90-day consultation period with Union representatives will end in June and it is hoped some workers will be given jobs at other sites in the company.

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