Walkers’ parent insisted that a change to a new shift pattern, which would result in the job losses, was necessary and consistent with wider industry standards and practice on other PepsiCo UK sites.
The Peterlee facility mainly produces potato crisps, but also other snacks.
Site manager Anne Maria Goodyer told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the change “will enable us to respond more flexibly to our customers’ requirements”.
She added: “The majority of our Peterlee employees are already on this shift pattern, which will help to bring us in line with much of the industry and many of our other sites.
“We haven’t yet begun the consultation process with our employees, but it is likely that this change will result in the loss of about 50 jobs.”
‘Committed’ to Peterlee
Nonetheless, Goodyer reassured workers that PepsiCo UK remained “committed to staying in Peterlee, but in order to do this, we need to ensure that the site is viable for the long term.
“I am personally grateful to all our employees at Peterlee for their continued dedication and commitment over the years. As we change our working patterns I would like to reassure all individuals impacted of our full support and assistance.
“This has been a difficult decision, but I firmly believe it is the right decision for the future of this site.”
Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, added: “I am hopeful PepsiCo UK will be able to grow the business and take on new lines. Hopefully, when these new lines are marketed, it will lead to additional work.”
As the UK’s largest crisp manufacturer, Leicester-based Walkers is worth around £436m and operates across seven UK locations.
Its 16 crisp and snack ranges include Walkers Sensations, Doritos and Quavers.
Owner PepsiCo UK employs around 5,500 people across 13 UK sites.