Dairy Crest has announced plans to close its site at Crudgington in Shropshire within the next 18 to 24 months, putting 161 jobs at risk.
The company said that following a two-year review of its UK spreads manufacturing operations, it plans to move all retail butters and spreads production to its existing site in Kirkby in Liverpool.
It planned to increase bulk butter production at its Severnside creamery in Gloucestershire as part of its drive to improve efficiency.
Arthur Reeves, corporate affairs director at Dairy Crest, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “By producing the same amount of product at one site instead of two, it becomes more efficient."
Reeves added it was “awful to have to lose jobs” but that lots of planning had gone into the two-year review to create a “realistic aim” of providing around 50 extra jobs in Kirkby and 20 at Severnside.
The plant had been operating under capacity ever since the production of Clover was moved to Kirkby.
Paul Taylor, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Udaw) area organiser said that the planned closure had ”not come as a surprise” and that employees "feared the worst” since the completion of the transfer to Kirkby, a decision that led to around 90 job losses.
Taylor said that the news had “demoralised” employees, and that Usdaw would be exploring all alternatives to protect their livelihoods.
“We will examine the company’s business case for the proposal and do all we can to try and save jobs at the site, but in the circumstances it is likely to prove very difficult,” he added.
Dairy Crest has also proposed to move its Technical Development centre from Crudgington to Kirkby.
As yet Dairy Crest had not decided what to do with the Crudgington site.
Meanwhile, today (September 24) Dairy Crest reported a “challenging first half” in a trading update for the six months ending September 30 2012.
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