Kraft Foods has announced a shake-up of its manufacturing network in the UK that will lead to the loss of around 200 jobs at UK confectioner Cadbury.

The US food giant said today (6 December) it would spend GBP50m (US$78m) on improving its manufacturing network in the UK. Jobs will be lost at three chocolate sites, although the workforce at the company's confectionery plant in Sheffield will grow as Kraft plans to start producing biscuits at the facility.

Kraft said it was looking to "drive productivity to world-class levels" and is looking at making changes at three chocolate plants - in Chirk in north Wales, in Marlbrook in Herefordshire and at Bournville in Birmingham, Cadbury's flagship site.

Kraft is investing GBP44m in its chocolate manufacturing in the UK and said the changes would "benefit" the three sites. The company is aiming to increase output, improve energy efficiency and bring some production in-house.

However, the company said around 200 jobs in chocolate manufacturing could be affected.

UK union Unite said Kraft's plans to invest in the three sites was "tainted" by the job cuts.

"While we welcome the investment plans, we have great concern about the 200 job losses," Unite national officer Jennie Formby said. "We understand that these jobs will be lost through natural wastages, with no compulsory redundancies. Our view is that if  Kraft is investing GBP44m for the expansion of its UK factories there should be no job losses and we will be strongly pressing for that outcome when we talk to management about this issue in the New Year."

Neil Chapman, manufacturing director for UK chocolate at Kraft, said the company's "ambition" was for the three sites to be at the "centre" of its network. He pointed out that Kraft had already made Bournville its R&D "centre of excellence" for chocolate. He added: "Today's announcement signals Kraft Foods' plans for growth across the manufacturing network."

Kraft is spending GBP6m on introducing biscuit production to the Sheffield plant. Brands including Oreo and Belvita will be made alongside Trebor, Maynards and Bassetts confectionery. The company said the investment would lead to a "net increase" of around 20 manufacturing jobs.