By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
KRAFT Foods' announcement hat it plans to close the emblematic “El Caserío” cream cheese factory in Minorca with the loss of nearly 200 jobs on the island has set alarm bells ringing in the Balearic government and business community.

U.S. food giant Kraft dropped the Christmas bombshell on Thursday and announced that a further 50 jobs will be lost at plants on the mainland as production of the famous cheese triangles is moved to Belgium.

Not only will closure of the cream cheese plant in Mahon directly hit at least 162 employees but also have negative repercussions for the local dairy farming community which has supplied the factory for decades.

Kraft Foods acquired the “El Caserío” brand in 1992 for 180 million euros when annual turnover was 60 million.
At that time, the company's total workforce was 320 and it absorbed the output of 300 dairy farms, representing around a third of the island's total milk production and yesterday, Balearic government spokesperson and Employment Minister, Joana Barcelo, claimed that, in view of the cash aid awarded to Kraft Foods between 2001 and 2008, the company is obliged to continue production on the island. Barcelo said that the government held urgent talks with the works' committee yesterday morning and contact has already been established with Kraft Foods with the aim of persuading the company to reverse its decisions.

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