UK private-label major Bakkavor is considering the future of a fresh food facility at Spalding, Lincolnshire, in the English east Midlands.

Hundreds of jobs could be lost as a result.

Bakkavor, which supplies the UK’s major grocery chains, blamed coronavirus and lost business at the start of the year for its proposal to consolidate work across four factories at the site.

The company said it is “reviewing and reducing functional support roles” and that 500 employees are impacted at the fresh foods facility. The trade union Unite puts the figure at 433.

In a statement, Bakkavor said: “We can confirm that we are entering into several consultations with employees at our Spalding site where we have two salads factories, two meals factories and a distribution centre.

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“Over the past 12 months the salads businesses at Spalding (Factory 1 and the Deli) have come under increasing pressure due to the impact of a business loss at the beginning of 2020 and more recently the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

“As a result, we have had to make some difficult decisions to ensure we can continue to remain sustainable in what remains a particularly difficult trading environment.”

Unite, which represents workers at the site, said the news is a “bitter pill” for the workforce to swallow.

In a statement sent to just-food this morning (9 June), the union said it is meeting management to ask for the business rationale for the “433 job cuts”.

Unite regional officer Mick Orpin said: “This news is a bitter pill for the workers and their families, as well as for the wider Lincolnshire economy. Our members face a period of deep uncertainty and worry as to how they will put food on the table for their families and pay their bills.

“As we start the 45-day consultation process today, we are going to ask to see – and also challenge – the management’s business rationale behind this decision as we are not convinced by its argument.”

just-food has asked Bakkavor for further comment.

Last month, Bakkavor confirmed there had been four confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst its workforce at Spalding.