Arla plans to close Hatfield Peverel dairy by July

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Arla looks set to close its Hatfield Peverel plant in Essex, with more than 200 jobs affected.
Arla looks set to close its Hatfield Peverel plant in Essex, with more than 200 jobs affected.

Related tags Milk

Arla has announced that it plans to close its fresh milk processing plant at Hatfield Peverel in Essex, UK within five months, with the potential loss of 200 jobs.

The closure is subject to consultation with those affected, with some staff being offered relocation.

Hatfield Peverel has the capacity to process 356,000 litres of milk per day and processes fresh milk for Arla Cravendale and Arla Big Milk plus own-label fresh and organic milk for major retailers.

Arla says its site in Aylesbury, which now has the ability to process a billion liters a year since changes implemented after its 2014 opening, will take on the majority of Hatfield Peverel’s processing, and smaller volumes of milk will be delivered to other Arla fresh milk dairies dependent on customer requirements.

Varied response

NFU dairy board chairman Rob Harrison told DairyReporter, “Today’s announcement by Arla to close the Hatfield Peverel dairy will obviously by very unsettling for all the staff working at the plant. However, the need for cost savings and rationalization in today’s dairy market is extremely clear.

“The NFU understands that the impact on Arla’s members supplying this dairy will be minimal. We assume that Arla’s Cravendale and Big Milk will continue to be produced with British milk.”

Mark Barter, regional officer for Unite, the country’s largest union, which represents 137 of the workers, said, “This is very bad news for the workforce and their families – it leaves a sour taste in the mouth. There is not much similar employment in the area and the commute to Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire would be far too much on a daily basis."

Barter said that the union probably won't be able to meet with management until Friday, but will be asking for reasons why the plant has to close.

“We will want to investigate every opportunity to save these milk production jobs," ​he said.

Outsourcing to Bidvest Logistics

The Aylesbury plant is the world’s largest dairy operation of its kind and was built to support Arla’s long-term strategy to increase the volume of milk being processed in the UK and support Arla’s growth plans for its largest market.

As a result of the proposed closure and following a full review of the outbound logistics operations currently run from Hatfield Peverel, Arla said it is also recommending a model that would outsource this operation to Bidvest Logistics, a distribution and supply chain services company.

Arla said that if the proposal is accepted, it is likely that around 32 impacted employees would be transferred to Bidvest Logistics through a phased process. This would bring the potential number of people impacted by the changes at the Hatfield Peverel dairy to around 230.

Barter said that the union was also concerned about the proposal to transfer staff to Bidvest Logistics to ensure "there is no erosion of pay and conditions."

'Supporting our colleagues'

Dan Kolding, senior vice president, supply chain, Arla Foods UK said, “As a farmer-owned dairy company, our mission is to return the highest value for our farmers’ milk, creating opportunities for growth. The development of Aylesbury is helping us to deliver this vision in the UK, as the dairy approaches capacity.

”We are entering into full consultation with all colleagues affected by both proposals, and their trade union representatives. We are committed to supporting our colleagues at this difficult time and will do everything we can to support colleagues in their search for suitable alternative employment either within Arla or elsewhere.”

Hatfield Peverel, with a population of around 5,500, is a village situated between the cities of Chelmsford and Colchester.

Related topics Manufacturers Fresh Milk Arla Foods

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