The West Bromwich plant is among the three UK sites under threat.
The UK’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken, 2 Sisters Food Group, has announced it proposes to close three factories in the country, with 900 jobs affected.
2 Sisters has launched a consultation to close its Cambuslang factory in Scotland, with up to 450 jobs under threat, in addition to its West Midlands sites in Smethwick, with 350 jobs at risk, and Wolverhampton, with 100 positions under threat.
The company has been in the spotlight since it was embroiled in a food hygiene row last year following an undercover investigation by the Guardian and ITV.
Workers at the plant in West Bromwich were found to be altering kill dates and the undercover report stated that employees were seen changing records of where the chickens had been slaughtered.
2 Sisters produces a third of poultry products consumed in the UK and supplies supermarkets Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Aldi, Lidl and Marks & Spencer.
The company said that while it launches a consultation on the job losses, it plans to create 1,000 new roles within its poultry supply chain in the UK.
In a statement, it said: “As we continue to build a better business, we are simplifying how we work and investing in the areas that can make the most positive difference to our UK poultry operations.”
It added: “However, we do have areas of significant challenge and regrettably 900 roles will be at risk at three loss-making sites which we propose to close.
“Our focus now will be to support all affected colleagues and explore all alternative options available to us before making any final decisions.”
After the food hygiene exposé was made public, 2 Sisters temporarily suspended operations at its West Bromwich plant. The company said it was “shocked and distressed” by the undercover report, but admitted that it did identify “some isolated instances of non-compliance with our own quality management systems”.
A month-long enquiry into 2 Sisters by the Environment, Foods and Rural Affairs Committee found that problems at the West Bromwich site “were not a one off”.
Chair of the investigating select committee, Neil Parish MP, said in November: “Food supply chains are sensitive and easy to disrupt when retailers and consumers lose confidence in food quality or safety. Large producers and retailers have a responsibility to protect, rather than undermine, the UK’s food producers.”
2 Sisters was founded in 1993 by Ranjit Singh Boparan. It has 36 manufacturing sites in the UK, eight in the Netherlands, five in Ireland and one in Poland. It’s other brands include Fox’s Biscuits and Holland’s Pies.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2018