• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Hundreds of jobs at risk as Noble Foods set to axe Witney plant

Byoxfordnewspaper

Aug 31, 2022

Hundreds of local jobs have been put at risk after a multi-million-pound packaging company announced plans to axe its Standlake plant.

Noble Foods has confirmed that its plant near Witney will shut its doors in October, with operations being consolidated at its existing sites in Lincolnshire and Scotland.

The consultation period began this week with the 128 workers impacted by the closure and it ends on October 10.

The company said it was result of a move towards supplying only cage-free eggs and soaring inflation.

A spokesperson for Noble Foods said: “Our operations at Standlake packing and logistics centre have been scaling back, as the egg industry moves away from colony egg and endures widespread disruption from inflation – which is reaching every corner of our business.

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"Noble Foods is having to evolve, rationalise and unfortunately make very difficult and significant changes to our structure, including the closure of the Standlake site."

It added that this "was not a painless decision and our focus is on our colleagues".

"They have full assurance that the business will do everything possible to help them, including severance packages, hands-on support with new employment at other Noble Foods sites or with new employers, and providing references.”

Noble Foods is a leading supplier of fresh food brands to major retailers and consumers and owns the Happy Egg Co, Britain’s leading egg brand, plus Purely Organic, Big & Fresh, Freshlay Golden Yolks and Heritage Breeds.

A source said: "Nobody saw this coming, many, many local jobs will be lost."

The Standlake egg packing centre was launched in Spring 2014.

The company's website states: "[It] completely redefines the concept of an egg grading facility; it uses the latest technology and most advanced equipment in the world.

"Designed primarily with energy saving and H&S in mind, it’s predicted to be the most efficient egg packing centre in Europe – if not the world!"

It says the centre currently grades over two million eggs every day and 13 million a week and adds "As our southern distribution hub it handles over 25 million eggs a week."

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Noble Foods was fined almost £50,000 when inspectors found dented, dirty and cracked eggs in batches destined for Tesco and Sainsbury's at the Standlake plant between July 2019 and March 2020.

Lawyers for Noble Foods said a ‘perfect storm’ of factors had affected its packing plant in mid-2019. They included issues with machinery at the state-of-the-art factory and problems with some farms supplying the company.

Noble Foods emphasised that the eggs posed no risk to public health.

The company admitted nine breaches of egg marketing regulations.

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