Bakkavor, an own-label supplier to UK retailers, has defended plans to cut jobs at a fresh produce site in the country.

Union officials have criticised Bakkavor for its proposals to cut up to 375 jobs but the pizza-to-produce maker said falling sales and higher costs meant changes were necessary.

“For some time, Bakkavor’s prepared produce business at Bourne has experienced difficult trading conditions which have resulted in reduced sales volumes and higher raw material costs. As a result changes now need to be made in order to sustain and improve the business’s current position,” a spokesperson said.

Bakkavor said its proposals meant 375 employees were “at risk” and said “a proportion” could be made redundant if the plans go ahead, the spokesperson explained. The company’s proposals also include a review of wages and working practices.

The Unite union had warned that staff were “understandably angry” at the proposals and urged Bakkavor to “sit down and work” with officials.

The Bakkavor spokesperson said Unite had been involved “from the start” and talks were “ongoing”.

“There are a number of options under consideration and we aim to minimise job losses. We hope that the workforce at Bourne can be flexible in working with us to achieve this goal,” the spokesperson said.