Oscar Mayer Quality Foods has agreed to acquire a facility in north Wales from local peer David Wood Foods as the UK-headquartered private-label business seeks to increase its offering of plant-based meals.

The company plans to redevelop the site in the town of Flint to “provide a future-proofed manufacturing solution that will enable us to increase our provision of meat-free meals in response to growing consumer demand”, CEO Francois LeGrain said in a statement provided to just-food.

Oscar Mayer produces ready-meals for UK retailers and operates out of three plants, one in Chard in Somerset, south-west England, another in Wrexham, Wales, which is run by its subsidiary Rowan Foods, and a third in Kent housing Ferndale Foods.

However, the company announced last month that it planned to close the Chard plant over the next year because demand for ready-meals had waned during the pandemic with people restricted to cooking at home. Around 860 workers are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the decision.

“As and when new vacancies arise at Flint we will invite existing Oscar Mayer employees from across the group to apply in the first instance,” LeGrain said.

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The transaction price for the Flint plant has not been disclosed with the purchase expected to be completed by the end of November.

Some of the employees at the facility will be retained, and will start their introduction to Oscar Mayer at the nearby Rowan Foods’ factory in Wrexham while the Flint site closes for an upgrade “to suit the future technical requirements of our ready-meal production process”, LeGrain added.

While a spokesperson for Oscar Mayer was unable to confirm the number of workers employed at Flint, it was revealed 120 will be transferred over to the new owners.

David Wood Foods is also a private-label supplier to UK retailers with eight production sites across the country, including the one at Flint. The company produces ready-meals, bakery products, speciality breads, savoury pastries and desserts.

“Our ultimate intention is to redeploy Flint as a uniquely meat-free facility,” LeGrain said. “Although the Covid pandemic has changed consumer preferences with people having more time to cook from scratch at home, the meat-free alternative segment continues to enjoy significant growth and is strategically important to the Oscar Mayer group.”