Today, we are announcing a proposal to cease operations in our Wyeth Nutrition infant formula factory in Askeaton, Co Limerick, Ireland by Q1 2026. We propose to close the co-located R&D centre by Q1 2025.
We will now consult with all employees and their representative unions. Regrettably, today’s announcement means approximately 542 colleagues will be placed at risk of redundancy.
The facilities were part of Nestlé’s acquisition of Pfizer Nutrition in 2012. Operating as Wyeth Nutritionals Ireland Ltd (WNIL), the factory manufactures infant formula products exclusively for export to markets in Greater China and Asia. The factory currently employs 491 people. The R&D facility employs 51 people.
External trends have significantly impacted demand for infant nutrition products in the Greater China region. The number of new-born babies in China has declined sharply from some 18 million per year in 2016 to fewer than 9 million1 projected in 2023. The market, which had previously been reliant on imported infant formula products, is also seeing rapid growth in locally-produced products.
To adapt to those changes we are proposing to transfer the production from Askeaton to two existing factories – Suzhou, Mainland China and Konolfingen, Switzerland.
Konolfingen is also home to Wyeth and Nestlé Nutrition’s global R&D centre of excellence for infant and maternal products. It is proposed that R&D work at Askeaton would be absorbed into Konolfingen, where 365 colleagues work on research and product development across several disciplines, and a satellite R&D centre in Shanghai would be strengthened.
These proposals have been carefully considered and are no reflection on the excellent contribution made by our employees in Askeaton over many years.
To date, we have not been able to find a buyer. Therefore, we will commence a meaningful consultation process with our employees on a proposed closure. In parallel, during this consultation we remain open to approaches from a credible buyer.
We regret the uncertainty this announcement will cause our colleagues and their families, and we will make sure they are supported fully throughout this process.
Notes to Editor
In 2008, a melamine crisis impacting local infant formula manufacturers in Mainland China resulted in eroded consumer confidence in locally produced products; local product sales decreased significantly and demand for imported premium infant formula products expanded rapidly. In recent years, the Chinese authorities have enhanced and implemented significant improvements in Infant Formula Regulatory Controls for local manufacturing of infant formula factories leading to increased consumer confidence in GC manufactured infant formula products.
For more information, please contact the Nestlé UK press office at [email protected] or call us on 020 8667 6005.