By Dan Martin
Hundreds of jobs could be lost with the closure of large food factories in Leicestershire and Suffolk.
Pilgrim's UK Ltd has confirmed it plans to shut its plants in Coalville and Bury St Edmunds and shift operations to other parts of the country.
More than 600 staff have been warned they are at risk of redundancy and a consultation process has begun.
The firm has said it hopes to minimise job losses by offering staff work at other sites it runs.
The company, which processes pork, has blamed the move on "difficult market conditions" in the UK pig sector in 2021 and 2022.
Its annual report, released earlier this month, said rising inflation in its supply chain, a fall in the price of pork and the economic impact of the war in Ukraine had prompted measures to try to secure the future of the business.
Production would be moved from Coalville and Bury St Edmunds to Pilgrim's factories in Corsham, in Wiltshire, and King's Lynn in Norfolk, Linton in Cambridgeshire and Andover in Hampshire.
The company confirmed 318 staff in Coalville and about 290 in Bury St Edmunds could be made redundant.
It also plans to move its factory in Ashton-under-Lyne, in Greater Manchester, to a four-day week, threatening a further 35 jobs.
Rachel Baldwin, vice president of human resources for Pilgrim's UK, said: "The decision to propose the closure of our Coalville and Bury St Edmunds sites and put a number of roles at risk at Ashton has not been taken lightly, but is unfortunately essential to help our business recover and secure a sustainable future for all of our team members across the UK.
"Clearly, this announcement will have major implications, not just for our sites, but the local communities surrounding them.
"We will do everything we can to minimise the impact of these proposals and work closely with local authorities and agencies to support our team members through what we know will be an extremely difficult period."
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By Dan Martin