The supplier this week announced proposals to restructure operations at its bacon factory in Scunthorpe, cutting 120 full-time jobs and not renewing 60 temporary contracts. It said the proposed cuts were an "unfortunate but inevitable consequence of a strategic decision by Asda to opt for an alternative supply solution that will result in significant loss of volumes".
Asda confirmed it had decided to change suppliers following a "strategic review" of its gammon and bacon business but stressed the move would result in close to 400 new jobs being created at two Yorkshire factories of its new supplier. The supermarket declined to reveal what criteria it had applied in its strategic review or who its new supplier was. One likely candidate is believed to be Forza AW, the cooked-meat business backed by pork supremo Max Hilliard, which already supplies cooked sliced meats to Asda.
The majority of pig meat processed at Vion's Scunthorpe plant had come from the Netherlands, and Asda said the amount of British pig meat sourced by it would be unaffected by its switch away from Vion. It could even increase in the future, it said, adding that the welfare specifications Vion had been working to (British rather than EU) would also apply to its new supplier.
Steve Francis, MD of Vion's UK pork business, said the loss of Asda's gammon and bacon business was "clearly very disappointing" but added Vion remained committed to maintaining its leading position in the UK bacon category. The company was also actively seeking new business to replace the lost volumes.
Vion had been supplying Asda with bacon and gammon for more than 10 years. The company will continue to supply Asda with a number of fresh meat products, including sausages, lamb and pork.