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Jobs at Risk For Scottish Pate Producer

Meat loaf on a breadboard with a tomato and basil

Scottish pate producer Castle MacLellan Foods have confirmed that they are facing uncertainty over the future of jobs at their factory. The announcement comes after a difficult year of what they have called a “changing and challenging” market, though no concrete decisions have been made as yet.

Business change proposals

Castle MacLellan Foods are currently looking at a number of different proposed solutions which could overhaul the business, allowing them to streamline their costs and maximise their profits. The operational changes include switching working patterns, as well as the potential for some redundancies amongst the 105 people employed in food jobs like these at their site in Dumfries & Galloway.

The company was keen to make it clear that no decisions have yet been made. They are also looking towards consultancy periods with both their staff and their works committee, in order to look for new ideas that will allow them to move forward without compulsory redundancies. Some of the ideas which have already been floated include voluntary redundancies from members of staff who are happy to accept a financial package in exchange for stepping down, or job-sharing in which two members of staff go part time in the same position.

These ideas are unlikely to be welcomed by all members of staff, but a way forward must be found for the company to continue.

It has only recently fallen on harder times, as it was only a few years ago that the outlook was very good indeed. A £5 million factory expansion was undergone in 2015, which almost doubled the size of the space and increased their annual production capacity to 1,000t of pate. They also purchased new steam cookers, conveyor systems, and vacuum packers at the same time.

Umbrella group

Castle MacLellan is one of the firms which is part of the Kavli Group, who also own the Primula Cheese brand. This is a Norwegian firm which then sits under the umbrella of the Kavli Trust, a humanitarian organisation which focuses on charitable projects.

The Castle MacLellan factory in Kirkcudbright produces items such as a Smoked Salmon Pate with horseradish and lemon, a Smoked Duck Pate with Bramley apple jelly and tarragon, and a Roasted Mushroom Pate with garlic and thyme as a meat alternative.

 “This has not been an easy proposal to make. Last year was very challenging – both for the business and the market, and in order to build the business back to full strength, we have to put a plan in place,” said Elaine McConnell, General Manager of Castle MacLellan. “It’s important to reiterate that no final decisions have been made and we welcome any ideas our colleagues have as we begin consultations over the next few weeks.”

She also made it clear that the company will continue to invest in New Product Development and automation projects, to ensure that after this difficult period has been weathered, they will be in a strong position to bounce back. This company is looking for a short-term solution only, and obviously has no intention of closing its doors any time soon.

Any employers who are in the region and looking to take on new staff may wish to start listing their positions, as there are almost certainly going to be some experienced food industry workers looking for jobs very soon. Though this is a tough time for the pate producer, there has been no indication that they see this as anything more than a temporary problem. It will be interesting to observe how long it takes them to bounce back.