Pilgrim’s UK, a pork producer controlled by the Brazilian meat giant JBS, is planning to close its Ashton - under - Lyne site in Greater Manchester. The proposed closure is part of the company’s ongoing footprint review to have the best structure for long - term growth and development and to mitigate the current unfavorable market conditions in the UK.

Pilgrim’s UK, Major Pork Producer, Announces Closure of UK Facility: Unveiling the Impact on Jobs and the Struggles Facing the UK Pork Sector

Pilgrim’s UK, a pork producer owned by the Brazilian meat company JBS, intends to shut down its Ashton-under-Lyne facility in Greater Manchester. In September of last year, the company had announced plans to transition the plant to a four-day workweek.

However, on May 16th, Pilgrim’s UK stated that the proposed closure is part of an ongoing assessment of its operations. The company aims to establish the most effective structure for long-term growth and address the unfavorable market conditions in the UK.

The Ashton-under-Lyne factory, which currently employs 542 workers, is at risk of complete closure, potentially leading to redundancies for all staff members. As part of the review, Pilgrim’s UK is considering the creation of 90 additional positions spread across three other sites in Westerleigh, Spalding, and Bromborough.

Some employees from the Ashton-under-Lyne plant may be transferred to these facilities.

The objective of these changes is to optimize operations and facilitate the company’s return to a growth trajectory.

Rachel Baldwin, Vice President of Human Resources at Pilgrim’s UK, acknowledged the difficult decision to propose the closure of the Ashton site and emphasized the company’s efforts to explore alternative options.

However, due to the plant’s location and age within a densely populated area, modernization and expansion are not feasible. Consequently, the closure is deemed necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the workforce across the UK.

Last September, Pilgrim’s UK highlighted the significant challenges faced by the UK pig sector and announced the closure of two other sites in Bury St Edmunds and Coalville.

The company notes that the sector continues to experience unprecedented difficulties, including a 15% decline in the UK sow herd and the exit of unprofitable farmers due to high production costs and low pig prices.

Additionally, the UK’s growing reliance on cheaper imports with lower welfare standards from the EU, along with post-pandemic recovery challenges in certain markets, has adversely affected domestic production.

Pilgrim’s UK will now enter into a period of collective consultation with union representatives and employees from the Ashton-under-Lyne facility. Pilgrim’s UK is a subsidiary of Pilgrim’s Pride, a US-based meat group, with JBS serving as its majority shareholder.

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