PRODUCTION of Smarties is to be moved to Germany from York, where the sweets have been made for 70 years.

The move comes after an announcement last year that 645 jobs would be axed at the Nestle Rowntree factory in the city.

The factory will continue to make Kit Kat, Yorkie, Aero and Polo mints.

Unions are angry at the decision by the company to switch production to Hamburg.

Manufacture of Black Magic chocolates has already been moved to the Czech Republic and Dairy Box is now made in Spain.

GMB union spokesman John Kirk said: "Smarties is part of York's heritage. Nestle took the profits year in, year out, but failed to invest adequately in plant and buildings."

A statement from Nestle, which bought Rowntree in 1988, said: "This is part of planned changes to the York factory announced last September, which include a £20m investment to safeguard long-term employment for more than 1,800 employees."

The York plant is the largest confectionery factory in the world and houses the company's international chocolate research and development centre.

Smarties were launched in 1937 and last year the company changed the traditional round tube to a hexagon shape.