Jobs threatened at Noble Foods’ egg packing plants

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Noble foods Poultry farming

Noble Foods supplies 72M eggs for customers every week
Noble Foods supplies 72M eggs for customers every week
Noble Foods is considering axing jobs as it relocates shell egg packing operations in Scotland and Lincolnshire to a newly built facility in Oxfordshire, the company has confirmed.

“Noble Foods can confirm it is currently consulting with staff on proposals to relocate part of its egg-packing business from North Scarle (Lincoln) and Thornton (Fife) to a new facility in Standlake, West Oxfordshire,”​ said a spokeswoman for the firm.

“The proposed changes mean that products will be graded and packed closer to supplier and distribution points, reducing food-miles and excessive movement of products.


“We regret the potential loss of jobs caused by the change and are absolutely committed to supporting affected staff. A formal consultation period is now underway and we are unable to comment any further until the proposals have been discussed with staff and a final decision made.”

The firm, which claims to supply 72M eggs a week to customers including major retailers, has not confirmed how many jobs are affected.

The development comes directly after Andrew Cracknell joined the company as ceo​ on January 14, replacing Peter Thornton, who stepped down after five years at the helm. Cracknell had previously held senior posts at ABP Food Group.

Noble Foods announced in July last year that it was investing £9M in an extra egg packing facility at Witney, near Oxford​, expecting to finish the plant early this year.

The Fife plant serves customers in Scotland and the north of England. Noble Foods claims the Lincoln site is the largest free-range egg packing centre in the world, handling more than 32M eggs weekly and can automatically check eggs for size, grade and defects.

Invested significantly

The company has invested significantly in both factories in the past few years. The Lincoln plant contains a recently installed plastic tray system that washes and sanitises every tray, divider and pallet.

The Thornton facility was refurbished in 2008 and Noble Foods received permission to install a 1.5MW wind turbine there in 2011 to supply 75% of the site’s electricity requirements.

In addition to retailers’ own-label eggs, the firm also handles packing for its Happy Egg and Big & Fresh brands.

Aside from handling shell eggs, Noble Foods also processes egg products, owns premium desserts businesses Gü Puds and Didier’s Patisserie, and has poultry processing and feed milling interests.

The company has struggled with oversupply in the shell egg market as EU legislation banning battery cages meant newly built plants compliant with legislation coexisted with older ones during a transition phase.

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