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Nestle USA plans to close its three candy plants in the St. Louis area by the middle of next year, affecting more than 380 workers, the company said.

Nestle told the workers it plans to phase out production at the plants starting in December, saying in a letter to employees the move was necessary in light of "the industry's intensely competitive environment."

Nestle -- part of Nestle SA of Switzerland -- concluded that moving production to other plants made more sense.

Production at the three plants will be moved to sites in the Illinois communities of Bloomington and Itasca, as well as to plants in Mexico.