The processor planned to cease production of breaded and battered products at two sites on June 1, following the loss of a contract after tender for supermarket chain Asda.
Cargill operated two sites at Yazor Road and Grandstand Road in Hereford but said that the losses were mainly based at Yazor Road.
Cargill revealed it had decided to increase the focus on growing its fresh chicken business, after losing the contract.
It has now entered a consultation period with employees and their union representatives. The company said it does have opportunities across its other sites and every effort will be made to redeploy employees.
Avoid compulsory redundancies
Unite said it was “quietly confident” that it could avoid compulsory redundancies.
Unite regional officer Joe Clarke said: “It is early days in the consultation process, but we are quietly confident that we can avoid compulsory redundancies through voluntary redundancy and redeployment at the Grandstand Road plant.
“We are talking about a 20% cutback to the workforce at Yazor Road. The Grandstand Road site is unaffected by this announcement.
“We will be working closely and constructively with the company in the weeks ahead and I appreciate that it is a worrying time for our members, but we will be keeping them fully informed of how the talks with management progress.”
‘This is not an easy announcement’
Mary Thompson, md at Cargill Meats Europe, said: “This is not an easy announcement to make, every effort will be made to minimise the impact of this on our employees, they are our first priority here. I’d like to personally thank every employee for all their hard work and commitment to Cargill and producing such high quality fantastic products.”
No other Cargill operations are affected by this announcement. The firm will continue to operate its UK poultry processing operations in Wolverhampton, Hereford and Newent.
In 2013, Cargill announced a phased £35M investment in Hereford poultry operations to increase production capacity of fresh UK chickens. The cash was used to improve efficiency, upgrade technology and install the latest equipment.
Cargill has operated in the UK since 1955 and now employed more than 3,000 people in 22 sites.