NEW BETHLEHEM – The J.M. Smucker Co., which operates a peanut butter manufacturing plant in New Bethlehem, announced this week that it planned to lay off an unspecified number of its North American workforce.

According to a report in the Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, the Orville, Ohio-based Smucker said that the layoffs are a result of adjustments due to “changing consumer habits during the age of coronavirus.”

“Consumer behavior has evolved rapidly in recent years,” Ray Hancart, Smucker’s communications and media relations director, told Beacon Journal news partner News 5 Cleveland in an emailed statement. “However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an even greater acceleration of change.”

According to the report, the company is restructuring and reshaping its brands.

“The adjustments to our structure unfortunately will result in North American employees leaving our company,” Hancart wrote. “Since conversations are ongoing with employees, we will not be sharing any more details. Decisions that negatively impact any of our employees are always difficult to make and are only made after careful consideration.”

Calls and emails by The Leader-Vindicator to the corporate headquarters in Ohio were not returned as of press time yesterday (Tuesday).

According to the Akron report, Smucker has decided to focus on its coffee, pet food, jams, jellies and peanut butter brands, while selling its Natural Balance dog and cat food brand in December for $50 million, along with its Crisco shortening and oils business for $550 million last year.

The company currently has more than 7,000 employees and 30 manufacturing facilities.

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