Kraft Foods Inc., Northfield, Ill., says it plans to eliminate 1,600 positions throughout the U.S. and Canada during the coming year. The cuts will be made among its sales, corporate and other business units. About 20% of the job eliminations are currently open positions.

Kraft has roughly 127,000 employees worldwide, including 46,500 in North America.

The company announced in August that it would split into two independent companies: a global snacks business and North American grocery business. Kraft said the moves are needed to help the businesses run more effectively.

The bulk of about 40% of the cuts will be made among sales positions. Kraft says it plans to contract sales for its grocery business to two agencies: Acosta Sales & Marketing for its grocery store and big box retailer sales and Crossmark for convenience store sales.

Kraft also said that it is consolidating its other offices across the country, where some management, researchers and other employees work. It plans to halve the number of U.S. management centers to two from four.

The company's offices Madison, Wis., where its Oscar Meyer business is based, will remain open. Its East Hanover, N.J. facilities, where its snacks business is based, will become the U.S. headquarters for its global snacks business. The employees in its Tarrytown, N.Y., offices, where its beverage business is based, are moving to the greater Chicago area. And its cheese, dairy and grocery offices in Glenview, Ill., will close.

Source: Associated Press business staff