US food and beverage group Dr Pepper Snapple Group has expressed its "disappointment" at a strike at its New York apple sauce facility.

The company, best known for its Dr Pepper and Snapple drinks brands, makes apple sauce under the Mott's brand at a site in Williamson, where staff walked out over pay on Sunday (23 May).

A spokesman for Dr Pepper Snapple said yesterday that employees were still on strike although production at the facility was continuing.

"Production lines are running at Williamson, and we’re continuing to serve our customers," the spokesman told just-food. "We’re supplementing our workforce with other Dr Pepper Snapple employees as well as temporary help."

The company had offered to keep wages unchanged, the spokesman said, but union officials rejected the offer when a contract between the firm and staff expired on 15 April.

"Unable to reach an agreement, we have implemented new terms that reduce wages by $1.50 an hour, still well above the average for manufacturing jobs in the Rochester area. Employees will also continue to receive very competitive health, dental, life and disability insurance, as well as a 401(k) match among other optional benefits," the spokesman said. "At this point no further negotiations with the union are scheduled."

He added: "While Dr Pepper Snapple is prepared to operate the Williamson facility for the duration of the strike to ensure customer needs are met, the company’s primary interest is getting employees back on the job. The door is open for them to return."

The UFCW union said over 300 manufacturing staff had stopped work on Sunday because of "painful wage cuts".

The union said Dr Pepper Snapple's "unfair labour practices", which included "not bargaining in good faith" had prompted the strike.

"The workers that were forced to strike ... are the same workers who helped make Mott’s be the highly profitable company they are today, and they should not be treated like a bunch of rotten apples by overpaid executives,” said Stuart Appelbaum, national president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, of the UFCW.  

“We understand that no-one wins when there is a strike, but is very troubling and disturbing that such a profitable company as Mott’s would carve away a core relationship with their workforce all for corporate greed."