Vegetable grower in Peterborough announces 340 job loses in major shake up

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A leading vegetable grower and supplier in Peterborough has revealed plans to axe 340 jobs.

Produce World, which has its headquarters in Lynch Wood, plans to close two of its sites in Lincolnshire.

The firm has announced it intends to shut its facilities in Butterwick, near Boston, which employs 250 people, and its Swinderby site, where 90 people are employed.

The firm says that changing shopping habits are largely to blame for the proposed closures.

The firm say the job losses are the result of the creation of a joint venture with Lincolnshire Field Products (LFP), of Wykeham, to grow, harvest, pack and market brassicas.

It says that under the joint venture proposals it will create 60 jobs in Wykeham and invest a total of £10 million in that site and at Isleham.

In future all growing and harvesting, and processing and packing will take place at Wykeham.

All processing and packing of conventionally grown root vegetables will move from Swinderby to its site at Isleham.

The joint venture will mean that the overall Produce World Group will have a turnover of around £250 million, and will be the biggest grower and supplier of fresh vegetables in the UK.

Consultations with staff at risk of redundancy are under way and the sites will stay open for some months until a decision is made.

Neil Fraser, executive chairman, said the firm was changing to meet “future challenges in the industry”.

“At Produce World we are growing our business and developing a structure which will enable us to meet the current and future challenges in the industry.

“We are operating in a low margin business and more consolidation across the industry is inevitable.

“At the same time our customers are experiencing a period of unprecedented competition and changing consumer shopping habits.

“We have acted to ensure we can meet these challenges and make the Produce World Group sustainable for the future.

“We are committed to the long-term for the business and for fresh vegetable growing in Lincolnshire and across East Anglia.

“Our roots business at Isleham already operates successfully as a Joint Venture with Tompsett Burgess Growers and this is the model we plan to use with LFP.

“We are very much aware of the impact that the proposed closures will have on our colleagues at Butterwick and Swinderby, and we have considered and will consider every possible option before implementing these proposals.

“Both sites will remain open for a number of months and we will do everything we can to help colleagues to find alternative employment including jobs within the Produce World Group.”

The firm, which started in 1898, is one of Europe’s largest vegetable growers and has sites in Peterborough, Spalding, Ely and Chatteris in Cambridgeshire.