UK – Saputo, a Canadian dairy giant, has unveiled plans to close its dairy facility in Frome, Somerset, UK, in the first half of 2024, putting more than 150 jobs on the line.

The decision is part of Saputo’s broader strategy to consolidate operations and reduce costs, following its acquisition of UK-based Dairy Crest in 2019.

The Frome facility, which currently employs 170 workers, primarily focuses on cheese packing. Saputo plans to shift these operations to its central England facility in Nuneaton, Warwickshire.

Although 180 new jobs will be created at the Nuneaton factory, the move raises concerns for the existing workforce in Frome.

According to a statement provided to Just Food, Saputo UK outlined the steps being taken to address the impact on employees

¬†“Employees have been offered the opportunity to relocate to Nuneaton, and everyone has been provided with outplacement support.”

However, the company also noted that collective consultation is underway, and the exact closure date is yet to be confirmed.

The decision to close the Frome facility is part of Saputo’s ongoing efforts to streamline its global operations and increase efficiency.

Meanwhile, similar consolidation measures have been observed in Australia and the US, where Saputo recently announced a review of its King Island Dairy cheese factory in Tasmania and the closure of its site in Lancaster, Wisconsin, scheduled for the fourth quarter of the 2024 financial year.

Saputo emphasized that such decisions are not taken lightly and are aimed at securing the long-term future of Saputo Dairy UK.

“We maintain our efforts to pursue additional efficiencies and decrease costs while strengthening our market presence,” the company stated.

Saputo’s consolidation strategy extends beyond the UK, as seen in its closure of the Maffra site in Victoria, Australia, and the ongoing sale of facilities in Laverton North, Victoria, and Erskine Park, New South Wales, to retailer Coles.

In the US, Saputo is set to close its Lancaster site and had previously announced the closure of the cheese factory in Belmont, Wisconsin.

However, the Reedsburg facility in Wisconsin has been converted to take on the production carried out in Lancaster, indicating a strategic reshuffling of its production network.

The closure of the Frome facility is another chapter in Saputo’s global realignment, reflecting the challenges and adjustments faced by major players in the dairy industry.