Tough trading conditions in cooked meat market have forced Kerry Foods to consider closing its Durham factory, leading to the potential loss of 350 jobs and the transfer of Kerry’s cooked meats business from the UK to Ireland.

The company currently uses the site to produce cooked meats, meat snacks and home baking products, but said trading conditions – particularly on the cooked meats side – had become so challenging over the past 12 months that the factory was no longer viable.

“Regrettably, unless an alternative plan can be found, we have no hope of returning the site to sustainable profitability,” said Kerry corporate affairs director Frank Hayes.

He added costs within the cooked meats industry had soared, and Kerry had struggled to obtain “market prices which would return a reasonable margin”. Kerry announced the plans to employees at the site today and has launched a 90-day consultation. If it does go ahead with its plans, the Durham factory will close its doors in July.

The cooked meats business would then transfer to Kerry’s site in Wicklow, with home baking going to its Spalding site, and meat snacks going to Tralee.