An increase in feed costs is forcing Suffolk duck processing company Gressingham Foods to cut 90 jobs.

The company, the leading UK duck producer for retail, will cut slaughterhouse and butchery jobs at its Debach plant near Ipswich, transferring the butchery work to its plant at Redgrave, further north, near Diss.

According to the company, butchery operations will reopen at Debach in the run-up to Christmas to help meet seasonal demand, with temporary staff being hired.

Joint managing director Geoffrey Buchanan explained that the industry was very sensitive to increases in feed prices, as they made up about 50% of costs.

“The business is still very sound, but feed costs have almost doubled during the past five years, with a dramatic effect on profitability,” he told the East Anglian Daily Times.

“Growth has also receded a bit during the latter part of last year and early this year, and we have had to take a different strategy in our pricing. We are no longer able to fund heavy promotions. So we are cutting our cloth according to current circumstances.

“We have tried to pass on some of the feed cost increase we have suffered, but there is only so far you can go in the marketplace and still have a product people will buy.

“Our site at Redgrave has the capacity we need for most of the year, but retaining the operation on a seasonal basis at Debach gives us the scope to scale up when we need to.”

The company currently employs 550 staff and takes in ducks from 70 farms across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Under the new plan, 100 staff will remain at Debach, with the company hoping to transfer about 50 or 60 staff from there to its Redgrave site, where 210 are currently employed.

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