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Abattoir closure will impact on entire Welsh meat industry

Apr 11 2013

The closure of a large meat processing facility on Anglesey with the direct loss of 350 jobs is a major blow to the entire Welsh sheep industry, according to red meat promotion agency Hybu Cig Cymru.

"Vion's failure to secure a purchaser for Welsh Country Foods is a knockout punch for large-scale meat processing in North Wales," said HCC Chairman Dai Davies.

"The loss of any facility, whatever its size, is to be regretted," he said.

"But for Wales to lose one of the largest processing plants in Britain, with particular strategic importance to the industry in North Wales, is disastrous."

Late last year Vion, the Dutch-based food group, decided to sell all its meat plants in the UK. Welsh Country Foods in Gaerwen, which employs 350 people, is the only one of Vion's facilities to fail to find a buyer.

"The closure of Welsh Country Foods, which processed 640,000 lambs a year, will have a far reaching effect not only on the employees who will be made redundant but also on local suppliers and the wider Welsh meat industry," said Mr Davies.

HCC, for example, is funded through levies collected at abattoirs for each sheep that passes through. In the worst case scenario, if all the lambs currently processed at Welsh Country Foods are instead sent to abattoirs across the border in England, HCC could lose up to £500,000 a year.

"This would obviously have an impact on our continuing work to promote the Welsh Lamb brand, affecting farmers across Wales," said Mr Davies.

"Despite today's bad news, I hope that Vion will continue its efforts in coming weeks to try and find a suitable buyer for Welsh Country Foods so that Wales doesn't lose this valuable facility."

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