Kerry Ingrédients France, the French subsidiary of Irish food maker Kerry Group, has sold its fruit preparations for yoghurts business to Portuguese counterpart, Frulact, for an undisclosed sum.

In March, Kerry said it would stop producing preparations at its plant in Apt, in south-east France.

The facility is the focus of a restucturing programme amid falling consumption of fruit and crystallised fruit yoghurts, which has resulted in excess production capacity. Kerry is axing around 150 jobs at the plant, including 46 working on fruit preparations, out of a workforce of 330 staff.

Frulact has bought a production facility at the Apt plant where it will employ at least 40 Kerry staff. Frulact will start business at the plant at the end of July and is aiming for an annual output of 17,000 tonnes, representing 20% of the French market.

The deal with Kerry could lead to the closure of Frulact's existing French plant at St Yorre, in the Auvergne region, which also specialises in fruit preparations for yoghurts and employs around  40 workers.

"While we have yet to receive official word from our head office in Portugal, given Frulact's development plans at Apt, there are clearly serious question marks over the future of the St Yorre plant," a company official told just-food.