The drinks industry was reeling this week after three of its biggest hitters announced 100 job losses and a further 49 potential losses as a result of the economic downturn.

Constellation Brands has cut 50 jobs across its UK operations, Scottish & Newcastle has axed 50 at its Bulmers business, and Abbey Well has confirmed 49 are under threat just a month after it was acquired by Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Constellation, which owns Hardys, Blackthorn, Gaymers and Stowells, claimed it had spent the past year pleading for Government assistance to help cope with the financial crisis. "Despite warnings that the wine trade could not sustain its position, no action has been taken to help," said a Constellation spokesman. "A further blow was dealt by the duty rise of 8% two weeks ago - no warning was given of this despite our dialogue with ministers. For the first time, the UK wine industry is in negative growth and so we have no alternative but to reduce our costs."

S&N was blasted by the union Unite for closing its Bulmers cider bottling plant in Hereford and giving just 30 days notice to employees instead of the regulatory 90 days.

The company, which was acquired earlier this year in a £7.8bn joint deal with Heineken and Carlsberg, said the cuts were necessary to respond to the "changing dynamics" of the UK marketplace.

"We have to question the decision of the management at group level in taking capacity out of the Hereford plant, as its cider will now need to be transported by road to Tadcaster, adding to the global carbon footprint," said Unite regional industrial officer Simon Powell.

CCE's Water & Robson business, which owns Abbey Well, was also expected to announce redundancies. "CCE will be considering how best to integrate the Abbey Well business within the CCE portfolio, and this may include job losses," warned a CCE spokeswoman.

Earlier this month, a leaked Anheuser-Busch InBev memo sparked fears that hundreds of drinks industry jobs would be axed.