Belgium-based vegetable group Pinguin is to cut 120 jobs from a UK production site in a bid to bring it up to European standards, the company’s CEO said today (2 August).

Herwig Dejonghe said jobs would go from the Padley Vegetables site in Boston, which Pinguin bought in June.

Dejonghe that the move is necessary to make Pinguin’s business in the UK more efficient in a sector characterized by two decades of under-investment.

“The industry in the UK is in a big problem; people have not invested in their factories in 20 years,” Dejonghe told just-food. “European companies have increased their capacity and with less people are producing a higher tonnage. We want to bring the plant up to Belgian standards.”

The cuts comes just two months after Pinguin, which owns five vegetable processing sites in the UK, Belgium and France, bought Padley for an undisclosed sum.

Dejonghe insisted that the 200 workers at the Padley site “understand” the decision, adding that Pinguin wants to follow the work it did at its Kings Lynn site in the UK.

He said: “This is also about securing the jobs of the people that remain. We want to make a state-of-the-art company in the UK.”

Local unions, however, have hit out at Pinguin’s plans. The GMB union labeled it the “destruction” of jobs at the Padley site.

The GMB’s Andy Fletcher said that when Pinguin bought Padley, it had assured workers that there would be “no changes”.

Fletcher said: “This proved to be empty words and almost immediately Pinguin started changing shift patterns and so on. The Boston site was a viable option but considering Pinguin’s track record in the UK it is hardly surprising that they have decided to asset strip the company and sell the work force down the river.”