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FrieslandCampina to close two cheese plants

By Helen Glaberson , 26-Nov-2010

Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina has announced its plans to close two of its cheese plants in the Netherlands, Varsseveld and Leerbroek, and will invest €47m to improve efficiency at five of its remaining production facilities.

Rob van Dongen, a spokesperson for the company told DairyReporter.com that the reason behind the closures is due to the falling demand of Edam loaf and the Gouda cheese in the traditional round format which is produced at the two facilities.

Dongen explained the changes were made on the back of growing customer demand for the Euroblock format, which is gaining global popularity over the two other formats.

Production lines from the two plants will be transferred to its other cheese processing facilities in the country: Workum, Marum, Balkbrug, Gerkesklooster and Leerdam.

These measures will result in the loss of a total of 159 jobs as staffing levels at the company’s Marum and Gerkesklooster plants will be reduced. However, the company said a further 52 new positions will be created.

Piet Hilarides, COO cheese & butter at FrieslandCampina said: “Cost reductions through economies of scale and efficiency improvements are an essential part of our strategy route 2020. Regrettably, this will have consequences for a number of employees. We will do our utmost to help those affected to find new positions, either within FrieslandCampina or elsewhere,” he said.

The company said that the employee representation bodies have been asked for advice and the relevant trade unions have also been notified.

Production transfer

FrieslandCampina plans to close its cheese production plant at Varsseveld during the fourth quarter of 2012.

The plant produces the round Gouda cheese, the Gouda cheese block and Edam loaf cheeses with a total production volume of approximately 34,000 tonnes of cheese.

“Demand for these types of cheese is falling. At the same time, demand for Gouda cheese in the Euroblock format is growing. FrieslandCampina will therefore invest €31m to expand production capacity at its production plant in Workum,” said the company.

FrieslandCampina said the number of employees at Workum will increase by 21 to a total of 136 and the expansion completed by the third quarter of 2012.

“This will boost total production capacity at the plant from 65,000 to 115,000 tonnes of cheese, making it one of the world’s biggest cheese plants,” said the manufacturer.

Due to the “overcapacity” in the production of small format Gouda cheese, the company plans to close the cheese ripening and packaging plant at Leerbroek in mid-2011.

The cheese ripening activities will be relocated to Gerkesklooster and the cheese packaging activities will move to Leerdam.