MORE than 1700 Scottish jobs will be lost if plans to close a meat factory are approved.
Vion Food UK, which owns Hall's of Broxburn, said the plant was loss-making despite heavy investment in the site over the past four years.
The company said it was starting a 90-day consultation with unions and workers at the West Lothian site.
Vion UK chairman Peter Barr said: "This is an extremely sad day and one we have strenuously tried to avoid for the past four years, but the huge losses being incurred mean we believe we have no alternative.
"Every possible step has been taken to secure the future of the business but we are currently losing £79,000 per day at the site, which is clearly unsustainable."
Mr Barr said the latest accounts showed a significant deterioration in finances compared with the previous year.
He added: "Over the past four years, we have restructured this plant, invested heavily in the site and have brought in new management from across the group in an attempt to stem the losses, which have arisen in part due to the complexity and inefficient lay-out of the plant. Regrettably, the plant remains heavily in the red."
The factory was bought by Vion Food Group in August 2008 and employs 1150 permanent and 595 agency staff. It is a major processing facility for Scottish pork used to make sausages and other meat products, handling around 8000 pigs each week.
Mr Barr said: "If the plant closure is confirmed, we will take all practical steps to work with the relevant agencies to minimise the undoubtedly significant impact on jobs and local economies."
John McGinty, leader of West Lothian Council, said: "It is a shock to hear the scale of the potential job losses at Vion Foods in Broxburn. This is undoubtedly a serious blow in what is already an extremely challenging employment market."
Mr McGinty said the council would work with local communities and the Scottish Government to help those affected by the announcement.
Lothians MSP Neil Findlay said the news was a crushing blow. He said: "The task that we face now is to endeavour to keep the plant open and to protect and help the workers in any way that we can.
"Last September the First Minister announced that Hall's would be remaining at Broxburn courtesy of £1.495million from Training Plus funds from Scottish Enterprise. On that basis, I would also ask that the First Minister become personally involved in this awful situation."
Finance Secretary John Swinney visited the factory and set up a public/private sector task force to safeguard jobs and opportunities for the food industry.
Speaking after its first meeting, Mr Swinney said: "The task force agreed that its key focus is maintaining continuity of business at Hall's of Broxburn and we are entirely committed to that exercise.
"We have drawn together all of the relevant government agencies, local agencies and political representatives to focus on ensuring we deliver a positive economic future for the workforce and community of Broxburn. The taskforce has had a positive start and will take forward a number of practical actions before re-convening on July 30."