Kerry Foods blames competition for Durham cuts

By Dan Colombini

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Kerry foods, Nutrition

Kerry has blamed the potential closure of its Durham site on increasing competition in the cooked meats sector
Kerry has blamed the potential closure of its Durham site on increasing competition in the cooked meats sector
Kerry Foods has blamed soaring competition in the UK cooked meats market for its decision to close its Durham meat processing factory with the loss of 350 jobs.

The Walls sausage maker stressed that it could no longer compete with the high level of promotional activity in the sector, which was now predominantly lead by price.

Frank Hayes, communications director at Kerry Foods, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We are a relatively small player in the cooked meats market, which has become highly competitive in the last 12 to 18 months.

“There has also been a high level of promotional activity in the sector and pricing has become a dominant force in the market​.”

Operating adjustments

Hayes said that, despite attempts to lower factory output and make “significant​” operating adjustments, the firm had been unable to restore profitability to the site.

Unless an alternative strategy is identified,  we will have no alternative but to cease production at the end of July​,” he added.

As a result, production at the site will be transferred to Kerry’s other sites in Attleborough and Spalding in the UK and Wicklow in Ireland.

Last week the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) hit out at the firm for the decision and claimed that workers had been given no prior knowledge of any potential closure.

Usdaw described the news as "absolutely disastrous​” and said the employees were “extremely shocked, angry and distressed​”.

Absolutely disastrous

Joanne Thomas, Usdaw’s north east divisional officer said: “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.​”

Usdaw had also contacted local MP Roberta Blackman-Woods and MEP Stephen Hughes, who have both vowed to fight the closure and save the jobs, Thomas claimed.

The union will now examine the firm’s case for closure and stressed that its “overriding objective”​ will be to keep the site open.

Meanwhile, a further 337 jobs at Kerry’s Grimsby factory​ are currently facing the axe as a result of increasing competition and tumbling sales in the ready meals market.

FoodManufacture.co.uk reported in February that Kerry had begun a 90-day consultation at its Europarc plant but stressed that, unless a solution was found to halt falling sales, production at the site would be stopped.

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