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Vion Closure Must Move Pig Sector On

Scotland’s pig farmers are calling for a positive reaction from trade and Scottish Government to the phased closure of the country’s largest pig processing site operated by Vion UK at Hall’s of Broxburn.
 
The closure announcement comes following the completion of a 90-day consultation exercise with unions and workers, which commenced on 5 July.  Since then, there have been ongoing discussions with a Scottish Government Task Force led by Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney.

A separate pig industry task force, chaired by Richard Lochhead, also met on 5 July and NFUS is calling for that group to reconvene in light of the announcement.

NFU Scotland’s Pigs Committee Chairman, Philip Sleigh said:
“While the phased closure of Halls is a blow to the Scottish pig sector, discussions throughout the 90-day period have never raised expectations that a significantly different outcome would emerge and so this is the news most were expecting.  Our thoughts go to the staff of the plant.

“There are some positives.  A phased closure suggests there will be an outlet for Scottish pigs through Halls from now until Christmas and into the New Year.  That is welcome and it also gives the industry time to look at new or alternative outlets for our pigs.  That will involve discussions with processors in Scotland and England.

“The interest expressed in parts of the plant by a small number of parties holds out some hope that elements of the Halls operation may yet be salvaged for the industry.
 
“Although this is a blow, I believe we have an industry worth building again.  Even during the 90-day consultation period on Halls, Scotland’s sow herd will have shrunk with soaring feed prices and a limited improvement in price prompting some to put their herds away.  We need to turn that around.

“The job starts now of finding new processing partners who share our positive vision for the Scottish pig sector and the attitude of retailers to stocking Scottish pig products will be key.  This week’s examination of shop shelves by NFU Scotland shows that there are a number of supermarkets that could significantly increase their commitment to Scottish pork.

“The pigs task force that met in July to discuss the ramifications that the closure of Halls might bring must meet again as a matter of priority and I call on Richard Lochhead to reconvene this group to kick-start the process of re-building our pig sector.” 

Notes to Editors

  • An examination of shelves in major supermarkets by NFU Scotland (see link to News Release 110/12 below) has seen strong support for fresh Scottish and British pork from Morrisons and Marks and Spencer. A meeting between NFU Scotland and Sainsbury’s saw that retailer firm up on an earlier commitment that the fresh pork range in its Scottish stores will be 100 percent Scottish across basics and ‘By Sainsbury’s’ ranges by October. While Scottish and British pork was available in Tesco, Asda and Aldi stores, significant and disappointing volumes of fresh pork from France, Holland, Denmark and Ireland were also on the shelf. Mystery product, labelled simply as ‘EU’ was also available. On ham and bacon, only Marks and Spencer offered exclusively UK produce while all others saw shelf space dominated by Dutch and Danish with limited British produce available, if at all. http://www.nfus.org.uk/news/2012/october/supermarkets-must-step-scottish-pork

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 115/12


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