Irish dairy and ingredients group Glanbia has agreed to sell its local rights to Yoplait back to the yoghurt maker.

Glanbia said the move, which will result in 50 jobs being cut, follows a strategic review of its consumer products business.

Under the agreement, Yoplait will reacquire the franchise for EUR18m (US$22.9m). Yoplait, which is owned by General Mills and French dairy co-op Sodiaal, will progressively take over responsibility for production, marketing and account management in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

As a result, production will cease at Glanbia's facility in Inch, Co. Wexford.

However, Glanbia will continue to distribute Yoplait products and provide field sales support through its Dublin-based consumer products business.

"As a consequence of the decision, there will unfortunately be 50 job losses," a spokesperson told just-food. "A consultation process has started with immediate effect to determine if there are other opportunities for the staff members within the rest of the business."

Glanbia said its decision to move away from the franchise model, which it has held with Yoplait in Ireland since 1973, reflects "the current challenging Irish retail environment".

"This agreement to reconfigure the relationship with Yoplait will enable Glanbia consumer products to focus on ongoing innovation and the development of our core beverage and food brands, such as Kilmeaden Cheese, Avonmore, Premier and our other fresh milk brands," said Glanbia consumer products CEO Colin Gordon.