Frozen chicken entrees and specialties processorBarber Foods, Portland, Maine, said it will lay off 82 workers in conjunction with a move to increase efficiency and capacity at its St. John Street plant in Portland.

President David Barber said "significant investments in processing equipment on one of the plant’s four manufacturing lines will improve efficiency, capability and flexibility, allowing the same volume to be produced on one line instead of two."

“As our competitors and customers continue to get bigger, we must improve productivity, reduce costs, and enhance efficiencies,” he continued. “Unfortunately, one of the tough consequences is letting go of Associates whose contributions we greatly appreciate.”

Officials noted that Barber's operations plan was developed and "in the works" prior to the company's purchase May 2011 purchase by AdvancePierre Foods, Cincinnati.

David Barber said the company continues to employ more than 500 Portland-area workers.