Nestlé plans to shut down its Wyeth Nutrition infant formula facility, as well as its co-located R&D centre, in Askeaton, County Limerick, Ireland, putting 542 jobs at risk of redundancy.
In a statement, the food giant said that it would be ceasing operations at Wyeth Nutrition infant formula factory by Q1 2026, and the R&D centre by Q1 2025. Nestlé said: “Regrettably, today’s announcement means approximately 542 colleagues will be placed at risk of redundancy”.
Nestlé acquired Wyeth Nutrition in 2012 as part of its acquisition of Pfizer Nutrition.
The factory produces infant formula products exclusively for export to Greater China and Asian markets. Currently, the facility has 491 employees, while the R&D site has 51 employees.
Nestlé stated that “external trends” have impacted the demand for infant nutrition products in Greater China.
The company highlighted: “The number of newborn babies in China has declined sharply from some 18 million per year in 2016 to fewer than 9 million projected in 2023. The market, which had previously been reliant on imported infant formula products, is also seeing rapid growth in locally produced products.”
To adapt to those changes, Nestlé is proposing the transfer of production from Askeaton to two existing factories: Suzhou in Mainland China and Konolfingen in Switzerland.
“Konolfingen is also home to Wyeth and Nestlé Nutrition’s global R&D centre of excellence for infant and maternal products,” said Nestlé. “It is proposed that R&D work at Askeaton would be absorbed into Konolfingen, where 365 colleagues work on research and product development across several disciplines, and a satellite R&D centre in Shanghai would be strengthened.
“These proposals have been carefully considered and are no reflection on the excellent contribution made by our employees in Askeaton over many years.”
Nestlé has not yet been able to find a buyer. As a result, the business will begin a “meaningful consultation process” with its employees regarding a proposed closure. Simultaneously, during this consultation, Nestlé will remain open to any credible buyer approaches.
Nestlé said: “We regret the uncertainty this announcement will cause our colleagues and their families, and we will make sure they are supported fully throughout this process”.
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