Fruit importer and ripener SH Pratt has begun a consultation with members of staff and trade union GMB to discuss proposals that could lead to the loss of 100 jobs at its plant in Luton.
Discussions will last for 45 days, with GMB confirming that it was looking to hold talks with the company in order to establish whether pressure from multiple major retailers was a factor behind the decision.
SH Pratt provides a wide range of services including supplying conventional, Fairtrade and organic bananas, while also boasting a ripening capacity of 3,900 pallets.
But the firm, which supplies other fruits such as pineapples, has now announced that it is to undergo a significant restructuring of the business.
GMB regional officer Sue Hackett, said: “This is terrible news for the workers involved and for Luton’s economy.
"The total possible job losses could be 117. We will do everything we can to minimise the job losses.”
In a statement, SH Pratt's operations director David Bateman said: "We're deeply sorry about the effect this will have and will do everything possible to support all of our people during this difficult time.
"Following the completion of this restructure, our long-term business prospects remain strong."
He added that the company would continue to be one of the biggest employers in Luton for "many years to come".
Mr Bateman did admit to Food Manufacture, however, that the company had been hit by Morrisons' decision to ripen its bananas internally rather than use its services.
He added that the supermarket had taken up the opportunity to move to a site in Lincolnshire, and that the move to a plant in Boston would be completed by November 23rd.
SH Pratt has since said that it is looking at ways in which to minimise the impact of the change that would arise from the restructuring by consulting all of those that could be affected by the measures.