A DEMAND for meat-free meals is one of the main reasons Oscar Mayer has decided to close the site in Somerset.
The company announced the closure last month, stating the reason was “a change in consumer demand”.
In a more recent statement, they have explained there is a greater demand for “non-meat” products, which they cannot produce on a large scale in Somerset.
“We believe there is a strong future in ready-meals although, according to our forecasts, not at pre-pandemic levels as habits have changed and most likely for good.,” said Craig Wallace, Chard site general manager.
“Notwithstanding Covid, demand has been gradually changing, moving towards a greater call for non-meat products.
“These cannot be produced at scale at Chard, given the specific demands inherent in preventing cross-contamination.
“Further, the Chard site itself is in need of investment which, despite all efforts, is deemed uneconomical given the change in production requirements.”
And so, the Oscar Mayer Group has recently bought another site in Wales dedicated solely to meet-free meals.
READ MORE: Oscar Mayer buys new site in Wales
But the company said they explored all “potential avenues to continue the same level of production on site” but none were viable.
“You should be aware we entered into detailed consultation with employee representatives, who in turn put forward some proposals to try to keep production in Chard, which were also examined, but again sadly, none met our financial viability test,” Mr Wallace added.
“The decision to close the Chard site has not been taken without full and detailed consideration.
“For the long-term future of the whole company, a move of products to other sites is unavoidable.
“We recognise the disappointment locally but are pleased to report significant interest from other local employers with opportunities for our excellent staff, which we are confident will benefit the local community.
“We are ensuring that every member of staff is informed of their options so as to ensure a smooth transition over the next few months as Oscar Mayer closes but new beginnings emerge.”