Redundancies rife as recession bites

The recession has triggered more redundancies in the meat industry, with both Tulip and Bernard Matthews announcing large scale job cuts.

Meat processor Tulip is to close its bacon producing plant in Thetford, Norfolk, with the loss of 75 jobs. At the same time Dalehead Foods, part of the Tulip group, will close its abattoir in Cambridge with the loss of 90 jobs.

Tulip had previously announced that it would be closing up its plant at Bromborough on Merseyside with the loss of 300 jobs.

Commenting on the Thetford closure Peter Judge, managing director of Tulip's north east division, said: "It is with great sadness that we are announcing our intention to cease the production of cooked bacon products at our Thetford site.

"This proposal is in no way a reflection on the quality or dedication of our workforce and we very much regret the impact that the announcement will have.

"The recent economic downturn is impacting on businesses across the UK and we are operating in a very competitive marketplace that currently has significant overcapacity and therefore consolidation is critical if Tulip is to establish itself as the lowest cost producer in the UK."

The closure of the abattoir in Cambridge will not affect other Daleshead activities at the site. Managing director John Hughes explained: "We have previously explored the possibility of building a new abattoir at Linton at a projected cost of £18 million, but given the spare capacity at Tulip's modern abattoir in Spalding, it no longer makes commercial sense to do so.

"I must stress, however, that the proposed closure of the abattoir will not affect our growing sausage, value added and retail packing operation at Linton, where it will be business as usual."

Meanwhile, Norfolk turkey producer Bernard Matthews has launched a consultation process which is expected to result in 130 job cuts.

The firm blamed the economic climate and the need to reduce costs for the redundancies, adding that the "number one priority is the long-term sustainability and success of the company."

It is thought that around 35 salaried positions will go, alongside 95 process posts.

Noel Bartram, Bernard Matthews Farms chief executive, told the BBC: "We appreciate that this consultation process may cause a degree of uncertainty for our staff.

"As it progresses we will provide them with regular updates with regards to any further developments."