Kerry closes cooked meat plant

Kerry Foods has revealed plans to close its cooked meat plant in Durham. The facility, which specialises in the processessing of sliced meats for supermarket sale, employs 350 staff.

Frank Hayes, director of corporate affairs for Kerry Foods told the MTJ: “The cooked meat sector is very competitive and Kerry Foods is only a relatively small player in this market in the UK.

“This market has become increasingly challenging over the last 12 months and there have been significiant additions to the cost base.

“We have attempted to attract new business but we have not been able to bring in sufficient new orders to justify keeping the plant open.

“We are now beginning a 90-day consultation process. This means that the plant could close at the end of July. We have a home baking section at the plant and that production would move to our plant in Spalding. Meat snacking production would  go to Attleborough in Norfolk and cooked meat production would transfer to Wicklow in Ireland.”

Usdaw, the union that represents workers at the plant, has criticised the plans, calling it “disastrous”.

Joanne Thomas, Usdaw’s North East divisional officer told local news organisations: “This is absolutely disastrous news for everyone who works at Kerry Foods, for their families and for the whole community.

“Many of our members have worked at the site for years and a number even work alongside their parents or sons and daughters so any closure could destroy the incomes of entire families.

“There has been no prior warning that closure was being considered, or even a suggestion that the future of the site could be in doubt, so our members are understandably extremely shocked, angry and distressed.

“We will examine the company’s business case for the proposed closure in detail but our overriding objective will be to keep the site open and to save jobs.”

In February the company announed its plans to shut its Grimsby frozen factory at the end of April, with the loss of 340 jobs.

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