PORTLAND – Barber Foods on Monday announced another round of layoffs, brought about by changes at the company’s plant on St. John Street.

David Barber, president of Barber Foods, said 71 employees will be laid off, effective in December.

In a separate work force reduction, Barber Foods laid off 82 production workers in June, a few weeks after the company was acquired by Cinncinati-based AdvancePierre Foods.

After this year’s layoffs, Barber Foods will still employ more than 400 production workers in Portland. The company’s diverse work force includes immigrants from 51 nations.

Barber said the company plans to streamline its line of fully cooked foods — which accounts for about 7 percent of its business — by shutting down its oven and moving production to an AdvancePierre Foods plant in Enid, Okla.

He said the change was long overdue because the oven equipment is 30 years old.

The vast majority of production at the Portland plant will continue to focus on raw foods, including stuffed chicken breasts and chicken tenders.

“This is a great solution from a business perspective because we are able to transfer production of fully cooked products to a very efficient plant in Enid, Okla.,” Barber said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, one of the tough consequences is letting go of associates whose contributions we greatly appreciate.”

Barber said his staff spent most of Monday meeting with employees who will be affected by the layoffs.

“It’s been hard for everyone, for those who we had to say goodbye to, for those employees who are staying behind, and for the people who had to break the news,” he said.

Each affected employee was given 60 days’ notice of the impending layoff, and each will receive one week of severance pay for every year of service, said Mark Dvorozniak, vice president of Barber Foods brand marketing.

He said workers with a broad range of experience with the company will be laid off. Most work on the production line, though a few are supervisors, he said. He would not be more specific.

Barber said the second round of layoffs didn’t come as a surprise. He said the layoffs in June were planned even before the company was acquired by AdvancePierre.

The layoffs announced Monday represent another phase in changes aimed at keeping the 56-year-old company competitive, he said.

“As our competitors and customers continue to get bigger, we must improve productivity, reduce costs and enhance efficiencies,” Barber said in Monday’s press release.

Barber would not rule out more layoffs in 2012, but noted that AdvancePierre is convinced that the Portland plant is an important part of its operation.

AdvancePierre will invest $5 million this year in renovations and equipment upgrades, and plans to invest another $5 million next year, he said. “Portland will rival other plants in the country.”

AdvancePierre has about 4,000 employees. It sells packaged sandwiches, cooked chicken and beef, and other products including shaved beef for cheesesteak sandwiches.

In past interviews, Barber has said the acquisition will help his company lower its operating costs and compete in a market dominated by large companies. Barber Foods’ chief competitors are ConAgra Foods, Tyson Foods and Perdue.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]