Moy Park cuts threaten Northern Ireland poultry sector

The whole farming sector of Northern Ireland may feel the effects of the partial closure announced by poultry firm, Moy Park, of its Ballymena processing factory.

(Yurii Bukhanovskyi | Bigstock)
(Yurii Bukhanovskyi | Bigstock)

The whole farming sector of Northern Ireland may feel the effects of the partial closure announced by poultry firm, Moy Park, of its Ballymena processing factory.

That was the warning issued by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU), following the news that Moy Park is to partially close its poultry processing plant in Ballymena, and a hatchery in North Antrim.

“Moy Park’s announcement is yet another blow to Northern Ireland poultry producers,” said UFU deputy president, David Brown. “Many are already facing massive cash flow pressures within their businesses following the recent amendment to RHI tariffs and this news is likely to mean a further income hit.”

Brown was referring to the government-run Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI) from which many poultry producers in Northern Ireland benefited, but which fell into disrepute and the tariffs offered have been drastically reduced.

According to Brown, Moy Park is Northern Ireland’s largest employer, making profits of GBP72 million (US$94.12 million) in 2017.

“Producers are very disappointed that the company cannot stand by them during this period of weaker demand,” he said. “There is a very real risk that some farmers will have to close their businesses.”

Blaming “challenging conditions,” Moy Park said the closure of the processing plant would have knock-on effects on the hatchery, but that operations were scheduled partially to resume in November 2019 with a full return to production in 2020, reported Belfast Telegraph.

Unions say up to 400 jobs could be lost at the plant, which previously had a workforce of around 1,700.

An estimated 600 farms in Northern Ireland supply Moy Park’s two processing plants.

The firm was founded in 1943. Acquired by JBS from Marfrig in 2015, Moy Park was sold to Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation two years later.

In the same year, Moy Park was named Northern Ireland’s top business by Ulster Business Magazine.

According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies listing, UK-based Moy Park is at number 9 in the European rankings, slaughtering an estimated 280 million chickens and turkeys per year at four slaughter plants.

In March of this year, Moy Park announced a new initiative to reduce the use of plastics across its business.

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