Canadian dairy processor Saputo has announced that it is to close its cheese and by-product manufacturing plant in Whitehall, PA, in the US.

The plant will first cease to produce cheese on 29 October 2005, and then will end by-product production at the latest by March 2006. All the activities of the Whitehall plant will be integrated into those of other Saputo facilities.

In all, 115 employees will be affected, of whom 85 will cease work on 29 October 2005. Some employees will be given the opportunity to transfer to other company plants.

After tax, costs connected with the closure will be approximately US$1.6m. The company expects annual after tax savings of about US$3m.

"This decision stems from a continuous analysis of the company's activities as a whole and the implementation of measures aimed primarily at improving the company's operational efficiency," Saputo said.