The agreement reached between Vion UK and 2 Sisters Food Group heralds a new era in meat processing in Scotland, according to the NFUS.
Boparan Holdings Limited, the holding company for 2 Sisters Food Group, has agreed to acquire Vion’s poultry and red meat processing businesses in the UK. In Scotland, that will include the McIntosh Donald red meat business at Portlethen and the poultry processing sites at Coupar Angus and Cambuslang.
The acquisition follows the announcement by Vion in November 2012 of its plan to exit its UK operations. That had been preceded by the decision to close the pig processing operation at Broxburn.
Following discussions this week, Vion UK has offered to facilitate a meeting later this month to allow NFUS to meet with key 2 Sisters personnel to hear first-hand its plans for the Scottish sites.
Commenting on the announcement, NFU Scotland vice-president Rob Livesey said: “Since the announcement regarding Vion’s UK plants in November 2012, there has been a degree of uncertainty over the future of the sites in Scotland. This agreement draws a line under that and we will meet with 2 Sisters management in due course to get a feel for its plans for Scotland.
“Recent headline-grabbing issues within the processed food sector have shown that there are genuine opportunities for Scotland to deliver the traceability, provenance and quality that consumers want. Backed by greater retailer commitment to home-produced products, these Scottish sites are ideally placed to meet that demand with meat produced on Scottish farms.
“On red meat, the McIntosh Donald plant at Portlethen is one of the big five Scottish abattoirs and already heavily committed to the Scotch brand. It is embedded in Scottish agriculture’s feeding heartland and hundreds of Scottish farmers send significant numbers of top quality cattle to this plant. Its sale as a going concern will bring uncertainty to an end and allow farmers to continue supplying the plant with some confidence.”
Commenting on the announcement that poultry sites at Coupar Angus and Cambuslang will join 2 Sisters’ existing poultry portfolio, NFUS Poultry Working Group vice-chairman Robert Hay said: “First and foremost, those producing poultry meat in Scotland will welcome the fact that a decision has been reached quickly and that the business will remain in Scotland. That change in ownership will give 2 Sisters a huge chunk of the Scottish poultry meat business but with some supermarket customers announcing a substantially greater commitment to home-produced chicken, there is a clear opportunity for us to work with 2 Sisters to fill that increased demand jointly.”