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Food firm jobs fight in wake of horse meat scandal
10:34am Thursday 21st March 2013 in Chard
BOSSES at one of Chard’s key employers are doing all they can to ensure job losses are avoided in the wake of the horse meat scandal.
Oscar Mayer, which supplies chilled ready meals to supermarket giant Sainsbury’s, has seen sales significantly fall since the meat contamination investigation began.
Though investigations have given Oscar Mayer and Sainsbury’s products a clean bill of health, overall confidence among customers buying ready meals has dropped considerably.
A spokesman for Oscar Mayer, which employs just over 750 people in Furnham Road, said: “The adverse publicity has led to a decline in consumers buying mince-based ready meals, which is a high percentage of our business.
“With lower volumes the site has seen an immediate impact on production efficiency, an increase in waste, and in energy and water usage.”
The company has minimised the use of temporary workers and staff have been using holidays where possible to help.
But the spokesman said: “With no sign of an immediate recovery and with the company leading into what’s historically the quieter summer period we need to take further sustainable action to minimise the impact and safeguard the future of the business.”
The company’s management has started talks with the Works Council and employees about changes to shift patterns to realign production hours to match reduced needs.
“All appropriate efforts will be made to safeguard the future of our employees and we’re working actively with our customer to recover this situation as soon as possible,” the spokesman said.
Sainsbury’s, meanwhile, has reiterated its confidence in its ready meals, and this week announced that its total sales overall for the ten weeks ending March 16 had risen by 7.1%.
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