Jobs at risk as lost contracts lead to cheese-maker facing closure

Jobs at risk as lost contracts lead to cheese-maker facing closure

The Arla factory at Trevarrian

17th March 2021

By Warren Wilkins

A cheese-making facility at Trevarrian is set to close in the early summer with the loss or relocation of 37 jobs.

Farmer-owned dairy company Arla Foods is due to shut its creamery, which manufactures brie, camembert and other cheeses, because volumes at the site have been in decline for the past three years.

The situation has been accelerated by the “loss of a number of key own-label cheese contracts” as well as continued instability in demand due to the ongoing pandemic.

The company proposes to cease production at the creamery, subject to consultation with employees, as it believes maintaining production at the site is no longer financially viable.

Arla, which is a farmer co-operative owned by 9,400 farmers, including 2,200 in the UK, will look to recruit the employees into vacant positions at its 10 production sites in the UK if the proposal goes ahead.

The company says ikt also plans to set up links with local job centres, provide outplacement support, and work with other local food producers to find suitable vacancies.

Farmers, many of whom are in Cornwall, who supply the creamery site at Trevarrian will be given the chance to supply the company’s other factories in Westbury and the Taw Valley. The remaining products made at Trevarrian Creamery cannot be produced elsewhere in Arla, due to their required production process and compositions.

The company expects to cease supply to customers of these products by the end of early summer 2021 following the consultation process.

Alison Rance, the vice president of production for Arla UK, said: “As a farmer-owned dairy company, our mission is to return the highest value for our farmers’ milk, sustaining a robust milk price for them that allows them to keep investing in sustainable dairy farming for the future and high animal-welfare standards.

“Unfortunately, the drop in production volumes for the site means we believe it is no longer financial responsible for us to keep our Trevarrian facility in operation.

“We have explored multiple options including additional volume opportunities for the site, but see no other alternative than to propose a closure.

“We recognise this will be a difficult time for all those colleagues impacted by these proposals and our priority is to support them to manage this situation as best we can.

“We are entering into full consultation with all colleagues affected by this proposal, and their trade union representatives.

“If the proposal goes ahead we are committed to supporting affected colleagues at this difficult time and will do everything we can to support them in their search for alternative employment, either within Arla or elsewhere.”

St Mawgan Cornwall councillor John Fitter said: “The news that Arla is to close the Trevarrian Creamery has come as a massive shock to not only the people who are employed at the creamery but also to residents of the local community.

“They have regarded the creamery and the people who work there as part of the ‘Trevarrian’ family, remembering as we do that the creamery cheese-making business was first started at this site by Paul Lobb and family, local famers from Trevarrian, growing in various stages to become part of Arla Foods whose main priority at this time must be to support and help their staff, at this very difficult time, in finding suitable alternative employment.

“I am hopeful that with support from various agencies and the surrounding community this will be successful.

“The creamery and all who work there have been wonderful neighbours and will be missed.

“I fully understand Arla Foods do not make these decisions lightly, and market forces along with viability all come into that process. We are living in difficult times.”

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