Pilgrims pig site closure puts more than 500 jobs at risk

The UK pork sector is facing further concerns, as processor Pilgrim’s UK has announced plans to close its site at Ashton-under-Lyne, putting 542 employees at risk of redundancy.

The company had previously announced it was moving to a four-day week in September last year.

Existing operations will now be transferred to other facilities at Spalding, Westerleigh and Bromborough.

See also: What next for pig supply chain fairness?

Pilgrims also announced the closure of two other processing sites at Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, and Coalville, Leicestershire in 2022.

Rachel Baldwin, vice-president of human resources at Pilgrim’s UK, said: “The decision to propose the closure of our Ashton site has not been taken lightly and we have made every effort to explore alternative options.”

Ms Baldwin added that a key part of the company’s work to return to growth was ensuring it is fully optimising its operational footprint.

The age and location of Ashton within a densely populated area meant that there was no feasible opportunity to modernise or expand the site.

National Pig Association chief executive, Lizzie Wilson said: “With the breeding herd down 25% in two years and slaughter numbers dropping 20% year on year, this news is disappointing for everyone involved, although not a surprise.

“We need to ensure that the UK maintains sufficient slaughter capacity so that, as the sector recovers, it is able to expand and thrive into the future.”

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