Müller Dairy has announced a raft of redundancies across its operations in the UK and Ireland in the wake of rising raw material costs.

Müller cited the need to remain competitive in a difficult economic climate as the reason for the redundancies, which could affect 55 jobs. “As costs rise, particularly raw materials, we must continually review our cost base and our efficiencies in order to remain strong,” said a spokeswoman.

All affected employees have been informed and are currently being consulted via the Müller Employee Forum. The consultation will conclude at the end of the year and the redundancies areexpected across a number of different functions within the business in both the UK and Ireland.

Despite the redundancies, Müller said it had no plans to withdraw its planning application to expand its facilities, which is still awaiting approval. In a planning statement submitted to Shropshire County Council in February, Müller claimed the planned additional facilities, which would cover an area of 24.25ha, would create 300 jobs.

Müller’s announcement is further evidence of how rising costs are affecting the UK yoghurt sector. Last week, The Grocer revealed that Danone had increased selling prices to retailers on Activia, which it blamed on “a significant increase in commodity prices, namely milk, sugar, fruits and some packaging.” As a result, the multiples moved their long-term two for £3 promotions on Activia four-packs to two for £3.50.

The announcement is also the latest in a series of major management changes for Müller. Last month, Müller revealed that UK CEO Gharry Eccles had left and would be replaced by Ronald Kers, current CEO of Nestlé’s Austrian and Slovenian operations, in January.

This week, it was reported that marketing director Lee Rolston was to leave the company. Müller refused to comment.