Unilever is to close a ice cream manufacturing plant in the US state of Maryland with the loss of 460 jobs.

The announcement on Tuesday (9 June) comes just weeks after the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant said it would close its Breyers ice cream plant in Massachusetts. That move is set to lead to the loss of 201 jobs.

Steve Rosemary, director of manufacturing, Unilever ice cream, insisted the company had undertaken "an extensive and careful analysis" of its ice cream production in the US before deciding to shutter the Hagerstown facility.

"Continually achieving greater efficiencies across our supply chain network is essential to our business," Rosemary said.

Production from Hagerstown - which manufactures Klondike, Popsicle, and Good Humor novelty ice cream, as well as Ben & Jerry's cones and Breyers Fruit Bars - will be transferred to other sites within the Unilever network in several phases.

Production at the plant is expected to finish by the end of 2011, with the closing expected to occur during the same period.

A spokesman for Unilever USA said "no final decision" had been made on which plants would take on Hagerstown's production.