Danish food ingredients firm Danisco announced today (Tuesday) that it will end sugar beet processing at its Kursenai facility as from the 2005 beet campaign.

Danisco has decided to concentrate the co-owned sugar operations in Lithuania to improve competitiveness as planned when Danisco joined the Lithuanian sugar industry in 1998, it said.

This will be done by transferring the activities of the Kursenai facility to the sugar factories at Panevezys and Kedainiai, which have been upgraded to handle the extra beet volume involved. A comprehensive social plan has been developed to support the some 130 people employed at the Kursenai facility in their transition to new jobs.

"Ever since we started up in Lithuania, we have been committed to streamlining the set-up. Over the past few years, we have succeeded in bringing the Panevezys and Kedainiai factories up to the high efficiency and product quality standards of Danisco's other sugar operations, also significantly enhancing environmental performance. By gathering production at these two factories we will achieve further efficiency required to support the continued viability of the Lithuanian sugar industry," said Michael Persson, vice president of Danisco Sugar.

"It is paramount for us to ensure fair treatment of our Kursenai employees and minimum inconvenience to our other stakeholders," he said. "To ensure a smooth transition and give the best possible support and starting point for the employees in finding new jobs, almost every employee is given the possibility to work with dismantling during the closure period. To minimize any inconvenience to our beet growers we will continue to operate the beet reception facility at Kursenai during the 2005 campaign to provide an alternative to delivering directly to the Panevezys facility."

"We are thankful for the loyalty and dedication of the Kursenai staff over the years and will invite each of our employees to an interview in order to match our support offer to their individual needs," said Jurgis Ignotas, factory manager at Kursenai.