Heinz has blamed the cost of shipping infant milks made in the UK to China for its move to cut jobs at its plant in Kendal.

The company said expanding distribution meant supplying the products to markets in Asia was “increasingly uncompetitive” and “not efficient or sustainable in the long term”.

Heinz said the Kendal site would focus on producing infant milks for continental Europe, as well as dry infant cereals and nutrition products for the UK. However, the proposed changes will mean a loss of 45 production and management jobs at the facility. The site currently employs 170 staff.

Production of the infant milks for markets in Asia will move to a co-packer, New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra.

“We deeply regret having to consider transferring production of our Chinese infant milks to New Zealand, and I understand the concerns that this news and the wider efficiency measures will cause for employees and their families,” Itziar Albisu, the vice president for the supply chain for Heinz’s infant and nutrition business, said.