PORTLAND — Recently acquired Barber Foods announced that 82 production employees will be laid off as the company consolidates two production lines in an effort to boost efficiency.

“As our competitors and customers continue to get bigger, we must improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance efficiencies. Unfortunately, one of the tough consequences is letting go of associates whose contributions we greatly appreciate,” said Barber Foods President David Barber in a statement.

Talk of pending layoffs surfaced June 1 when the 650-employee Portland company announced it had been acquired for an undisclosed sum by Cincinnati-based AdvancePierre Foods.

At the time, Barber said the company was progressing with plans to renovate the production plant on St. John Street, changes that would include new production equipment and closing one production line. Another line would be upgraded to handle additional capacity.

Barber said in June that some corporate positions at Barber Foods’ Milliken Street offices may be cut as the company moves those functions to AdvancePierre offices in Cincinnati or Oklahoma.

Barber said the upgrades to the plant were in the works prior to the acquisition. He also noted that the purchase would give Barber access to new markets and millions of dollars in capital investment from AdvancePierre.

Employees who lose their jobs will be given at least 60 days’ notice, one week of severance pay for each year of employment and help in finding a new job, said the news release.

Barber Foods primarily sells prepared chicken dinners to supermarkets and food retailers, club stores like Sam’s Club and institutions such as hospitals, schools, hotels and the U.S. military.

AdvancePierre has about 4,000 workers. It sells packaged sandwiches, cooked chicken and beef and other products, including shaved beef used in Philadelphia-style cheese steak sandwiches. The company’s customers include convenience stores, supermarkets, schools and other vendors.

Staff Writer Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be contacted at 791-6316 or at: [email protected]

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