Fonterra plans to cut 300 jobs in New Zealand when it consolidates its secondary cheese production at one factory.

The Dairy Workers Union told the New Zealand press that it had been informed of the company’s intention to close production sites in Dunedin and Panmure, Auckland, and transfer dairy processing to the Collingwood Street, Eltham, plant.

The company said that this would increase production efficiency and reduce production costs. Speaking to Christchurch farmers, Andre Ferrier, Fonterra chief executive, said: “We have to focus on strengthening our global competitiveness by becoming as efficient and productive as possible.”

 “This announcement is a bitter blow to hundreds of workers and their families,” said the Dairy Workers Union secretary James Ritchie. “It is also a serious setback to communities in Auckland, Taranaki and Dunedin.”

Ritchie said the union and Fonterra were discussing the company’s proposal before Fonterra’s directors make a final decision on the cuts in April.