Heinz Wattie's has not confirmed whether employees at its Hastings plant will be included in 100 job cuts throughout New Zealand, although it is understood production staff won't be affected.
The company announced yesterday it was implementing a new structure for its Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand businesses: "These changes will enable the company to become more flexible and efficient to support growth in extremely competitive local and global markets."
A total of 245 employees across Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand would be affected by the changes.
A Heinz Wattie's spokesman could not confirm last night whether the company's Hastings plant would be affected. He could only say there would be about 100 redundancies made across New Zealand.
Heinz Watties employs 1600 people in New Zealand.
The spokesman was unable to say when the redundancies would happen.
A consultation period began yesterday, during which the company would receive feedback on the proposal and it could last a couple of weeks.
"The company's first priority is to work with these employees and their families. Every effort will be made to provide them with the necessary assistance to help them through this phase."
Workers at the Hastings plant were told yesterday there were going to be job losses in New Zealand and further afield.
One worker believed it was going to be higher-paid salary workers who would lose their jobs.
In response to the announcement, Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said: "Any loss of a job in Hawke's Bay is regrettable at the moment.
"In Hastings particularly we work hard to get jobs - like the 200 jobs from Kiwibank - and to lose some does show the vulnerability of the job footprint in Hawke's Bay." Mr Yule added: "There are three [Heinz Wattie's] sites throughout New Zealand and we don't know the details yet - I'm not prepared to speculate."
Service and Food Workers Union organiser Thomas O'Neill said the union wanted more detail on the redundancies.
"We need more information just like everybody else."
He understood production staff would not be affected, but higher-paid staff were not covered by the union's collective. The union's staff would discuss the announcement at a meeting today.
"I'm sincerely hoping the company isn't engaged in asset-stripping."
Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce CEO Wayne Walford said the looming job losses were "pretty scary".
"If we've got more than half of them [employees] then it will be a blow for Hawke's Bay. It's been a fear I've had for a while.
"If we can't be a better supplier than other places in the world, we'll lose the plant."
Heinz Wattie's has three plants in New Zealand with two sites in Hastings and a site in Christchurch.
The King St plant has more than 500 permanent employees and up to 800 seasonal workers while the Tomoana factory has about 230 permanent employees and up to 140 seasonal workers.
The Hastings operation was the original home of Heinz Wattie's and produces products for distribution throughout New Zealand and the world.
The Tomoana factory produces pet foods, jams, food dressings, soups, sauces and burgers.