The Colgate-Palmolive company has halted production at its detergent and soap plant in Venezuela because of a lack of cardboard boxes to ship products, according to a union leader.

The plant in the city of Valencia stopped operations on Monday, union representative Carlos Rodriguez said in a telephone interview.

Its cardboard provider, Smurfit Kappa, halted production in the South American country last month after government authorities took over its local unit.

Smurfit Kappa, whose headquarters are in Dublin, was one of the few remaining shipping materials manufacturers in Venezuela.

Colgate-Palmolive is attempting to import cardboard from neighbouring Colombia, Mr Rodriguez said.

He said that a Colgate toothpaste plant was still operating, but had enough cardboard stock to cover only one more month of production.

"If (the toothpaste plant) does not get the cardboard, its operations will also be suspended," Mr Rodriguez said.

Colgate-Palmolive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company has five plants in Venezuela, including a soap factory that stopped operations more than a year ago.

Multinationals in Venezuela have drastically scaled back operations as the socialist government's currency controls have made obtaining raw materials difficult.

An economic collapse marked by spiralling hyperinflation has dented demand.