People made redundant at Cadbury may have to leave the region to find other work, the Otago Southland Employers Association says.
Modelez International announced this week it is proposing to end manufacturing operations at the Cadbury factory in Dunedin next year and move production to its existing Australian sites.
If closed, up to 380 jobs could be lost.
Otago Southland Employers Association chief executive Virginia Nicholls said Dunedin had absorbed large job losses before and believed many people would find jobs - but some may have to move.
"They are very specialist jobs so obviously not everyone is going to get another job in confectionary manufacturing.
"We know Cadbury have offered to pay to move some people to Australia but that comes down to individual circumstances.
She said Rainbow Confectionary in Oamaru were looking for staff and there were other jobs within the Dunedin region.
"We have had large scale job losses before, a good example is Fisher and Paykel most of them managed to find jobs.
"It is going to hard for some families but it is buoyant here at the moment so I am confident people will find jobs, but like I said it just might be in a different industry.
"The construction and tourism industries are strong here at the moment but obviously manufacturing is not as strong as we would like it to be."
Ms Nicholls said it was a mistake to think Dunedin was not feasible for large manufacturing.
"Large scale manufacturing is moving away but I don't agree with it -we are well placed for it, we have a world class port, a strong work force and infrastructure and affordable housing which is attractive in the current market."
Ms Nicholls is part of a workforce the Dunedin mayor has put together to discuss prospects for the Cadbury employees - they are meeting early next week.