Mars Inc's, chewing gum unit, Wrigley, has confirmed plans to cut over 200 jobs at a production site in France in response to declining demand in Europe.

Wrigley intends to cut 207 jobs at its production facility in Biesheim, close to the border with Germany. The company has started a consultation process with the works council representing Biesheim workers.

Wrigley insisted the cuts came as part of an investment programme designed to provide a "sustainable future" for production in Biesheim. A spokesperson for the company told just-food the group plans to create a "European gum base and soft gum centre of excellence" at the facility.

In a statement, the company said: "The projects would lead to significant long-term industrial investments, including EUR50m (US$39m) in modernising gum base production."

The company said the move comes in response to "difficult" economic conditions that "threaten our competitive position and the future of our business". In particular, Wrigley said gum demand had been hit by the economic downturn. As a result, since 2008, production at the Biesheim site has fallen 33% while cost per unit has risen 36%.

"Strong measures were taken over the past years to turn around the performance of the plant and also grow the chewing gum category. Unfortunately, in spite of such efforts, Wrigley France SNC is still facing structural issues that have to be addressed now."