US sweeteners manufacturer Merisant has closed its only manufacturing plant in Argentina.
The company, which leads the Argentine sweetener business with a 33% share of the market, said it had decided to end production at the facility in Zarate in Buenos Aires province due to high labour costs.
In 2006 workers from this facility enrolled in the Argentine Federation of Workers of the Chemical and Petrochemical Industries instead of the Food Industry Workers Union.
The move, Merisant Latin America’s HR and legal director Miguel Bietti said, “made our labor costs three times higher than our competition’s, turning production unviable”.
In October, Merisant presented a crisis preventive process before the Argentine Labor Ministry, who dictated a compulsory conciliation process between parties.
Thirty-nine workers have already been made redundant and 21 remain in negotiations. Merisant will keep an administrative and commercial staff of 25 people in Argentina.
The company produced 40,000 metric tonnes a year for brands including Equalsweet for South American countries like Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia.
“Merisant will continue manufacturing the same amount of sweetener in Argentina through third parties,” Bietti said.