AVARA FOODS has proposed the closure of its duck business amid a collapse in the foodservice and restaurant market because of coronavirus.

The firm said that it told employees on 29 April, before beginning a consultation period to establish “next steps and timescales”.

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Sources at Avara Foods said the loss of restaurant trade and catering had hit the division hard, but “underlying market conditions seriously undermine the viability of the business”.

Duck is a premium offering that is predominantly sold to restaurants, with relatively little traded through retail.

Joint venture

The duck producer Cherry Valley Foods was bought by Faccenda Foods in 2015 and is separate to Cherry Valley Farms, which continues to trade as a breeding and genetics business.

The purchase made Faccenda the only producer of British chicken, turkey and duck.

In late 2017 Faccenda and Cargill’s UK poultry business formed a joint venture, which was named Avara Foods.

The company said feed costs, feather prices and competition from European producers meant the duck division of the business was unviable. Brexit and coronavirus had “exacerbated” the situation, a spokesman for Avara added.

‘Difficult decision’

Andy Dawkins, chief executive of Avara, said in a statement: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision and one that reflects a market that has gradually deteriorated over several years.

“Despite investment in the business and the best efforts of all involved, the market has reached the point where the business is no longer sustainable, with no clear route to recovery.

“We are now committed to a meaningful consultation process and, if our proposal goes ahead, providing the necessary support to everyone affected and a smooth transition with all our trading partners.”