Cargill will stop producing breaded & battered (B&B) poultry products for Asda at its poultry processing plant in Yazor Road, Hereford from June 1 2016.
In an announcement on March 15 2016, the global agri-food business stated: “This extremely difficult situation follows the disappointing loss of the Asda B&B business during a competitive tendering process.
“In light of this, Cargill’s European chicken business has decided to further increase its focus on growing its primary fresh chicken business in line with its £35 million investment in fresh chicken over the past several years.
“The proposed change affects 230 roles based in Hereford, mainly at the Yazor Road site. Cargill does have opportunities across its sites and every effort will be made to redeploy employees. Cargill has now entered a consultation period with employees and their union representatives.”
Joe Clarke, regional officer at trades union Unite, 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.”
Speaking on behalf of Cargill, Mary Thompson, managing director for Cargill Meats Europe (CME), 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 were affected by this announcement, according to the company, which stressed it would continue to operate its UK poultry processing operations in Wolverhampton, Hereford and Newent.
It said it would remain committed to its employees and providing safe, nutritious and high-quality products to its customers and their consumers.
A spokeswoman told Meatinfo: “CME has been growing its fresh chicken business over the last two to three years … This is a growth market for CME and part of our strategy.
“The Yazor Road site will continue to operate as normal, as the other product lines continue to serve our customers in foodservice – only the retail B&B product line is impacted by this announcement.”
CME employs 2,000 staff at its two Hereford sites, Grandstand Road, which handles primary processing, and Yazor Road, which handles further processing of whole birds and portions.
The business refused to disclose the value of the lost contract.
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