A MEAT factory which employs more than 1,700 people could be forced to close, it has been announced.
Vion Food UK, which owns Hall’s of Broxburn, said the plant was loss-making despite heavy investment in the site over the last four years.
The company said it was beginning a 90-day consultation exercise with workers and unions at its West Lothian site.
Finance Secretary John Swinney visited the factory yesterday and set up a public/private sector taskforce to safeguard jobs and opportunities for the food industry.
Mr Swinney said: “We have drawn together all of the relevant government agencies, local agencies and political representatives to focus on ensuring we deliver a positive economic future for the workforce and community of Broxburn.”
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead met the National Farmers’ Union in Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland and Scottish Pig Producers.
Mr Lochhead said: “It has been a difficult day for both the West Lothian and the wider Scottish community – particularly the pig sector and agricultural industry.
“Hall’s is a major food business in a major Scottish sector and the taskforce has been set up to ensure this can continue.”
Vion UK chairman Peter Barr said the company has been making “huge” losses and had no alternative but to close.
Mr Barr said: “Every possible step has been taken to secure the future of the business but we are currently losing £79,000 per day at the site, which is clearly unsustainable. There is significant over-capacity in the UK meat industry and market conditions are extremely challenging.”
Mr Barr said the latest accounts for the firm showed a significant deterioration in finances compared with the previous year.
The factory was bought by Vion Food Group in August 2008.
It currently employs 1,150 permanent and 595 agency staff.
It is a major processing facility for Scottish pork used to make sausages and other meat products, handling around 8,000 pigs each week.