Vion cuts processing operation as recession hits lamb demand

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wales

Vion has announced plans to cut 200 jobs at Welsh Country Foods as a result of a drop in processing demand for lamb.

The meat giant said processing volumes at the Gaerwen plant in Wales, had “declined markedly over recent months​” as recession-hit consumers turned away from costlier meats such as lamb. A Vion spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com that data from TMS, which measures retail purchases, indicated that lamb portion sales had dropped 7 per cent in the year to the end of November 2009. Year-on-year sales for November itself fell 15 per cent, he added.

The company said it did not expect processing demand to return to previous levels in the short to medium term and was therefore restructuring its operations at the Anglesey facility, with almost half of the 444 employers slated to lose their jobs.

Consumer trend

The change would see cuts in the slaughter and deboning section to better match projected volumes. Vion also said it proposed to transfer the retail packing operations from Gaerwen to its site at Winsford.

“There are a number of factors which have led to the reduced demand from Welsh Country Foods, including a move by consumers towards cheaper proteins driven partly by the prevailing economic climate,”​ said a company statement.

Vion said it had been in contact with its supply chain partners to discuss options to stimulate demand in an attempt to mitigate the impact on the site - but added that there was no alternative but to restructure the shape of the business to match current and future projections.

Jose Peralta, managing director Vion Red Meat Business Unit said: “Operating within an increasingly competitive and increasingly demanding marketplace, we must continually look to optimising our production facilities.

“We regret the need for these proposed changes announced today, and have informed our employees and their Union representatives of our commitment to consult with them.”

The company said it would look at ways of avoiding redundancies, including transfers to other businesses within the Vion group.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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