Finland-based food manufacturer Fazer Group is to focus the production of its oat drinks and oat-based cooking products at its Tingsryd factory in Sweden.

Production is moving over from its site in the Finnish town of Koria. That facility will concentrate on manufacturing gurts – yogurt-like plant-based products made by fermenting oats.

Some 64 employees in Finland will lose their jobs.

The move was first mooted last month when Fazer said it was weighing up changes to its plant-based dairy production amid a “slowdown” in category growth.

It said then it was in talks with staff representatives over simplifying production at sites in Sweden and Finland.

That process has now resulted in the decision taken today (30 November).

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By GlobalData

In a statement, Fazer said: “The transition will occur gradually, with an estimated completion of production in Koria by autumn 2024.”

Returning to problems faced by the plant-based category as the reason for its consolidation plan, it added: “The slowdown of growth in the consumption of plant-based drinks, as well as increased production capacity in Europe, have made the plant-based drinks business more competitive than before. Consumers are more price-conscious and the market has become increasingly campaign-driven.”

It said the Tingsryd factory has “decades of experience and highly efficient processes for the large-scale and cost-effective production of high-quality oat drinks”.

As for the Finnish factory, Kati Rajala, VP of plant-based drinks at Fazer Lifestyle Foods, said: “We see good international growth potential for gurts and our Koria factory is well-positioned to respond to this growth due to our highly skilled personnel and the state-of-the-art facility.”

Commenting on the job losses, Rajala said: “We will do our utmost to support our employees and help them find new jobs. Vacancies in other Fazer Group units will be offered with priority to those employees whose employment is terminated.”

In February, Fazer said it was going ahead with a plan to exit the dairy category, including ending the manufacture of milk products at its Koria plant, shedding 82 employees.

Despite the newly-announced consolidation plan, Fazer said it is “strongly committed to the development and production of oat-based and other plant-based products in the future”.

Fazer Lifestyle Foods is one of Fazer Group’s three business areas. In 2022, it employed approximately 700 people and net sales totalled €260m ($283.6m).

The larger Fazer Group employs more than 6,000 people and exports to over 40 markets. In 2022, its net sales were €1.1bn with an EBITDA of €101.4m.

Earlier today, it was announced a new plant-based food consortium has been launched in Finland.

Plant-Based Food Finland (known as Pro Vege in Finnish) is intended to help boost the amount of plant-based food produced and sold in the Nordic country.