On Monday (15 October) Vion UK chairman Peter Barr announced that two final offers on the Hall’s of Broxburn site were not viable and the West Lothian-based plant would therefore close, with the direct loss of 1,700 jobs.
According to Barr, it was a regrettable decision, but since the site was losing £79,000 per day and the two potential buyers could not provide viable business plans, the site would be closed in a phased plan. He said that part of the site would close later this month, with the rest of the site stopping production in February next year.
The Scottish Government said the economy would suffer once production moved away from the area, which led finance and employment secretary John Swinney to implement a recovery plan to minimise the impact. Swinney said: “Teams are already in place working to support staff facing redundancy. Translation services have been available through Skills Development Scotland and Job Centre Plus, a sign of both the Scottish and UK Governments working together for the future of those working at the plant.”
Scottish pig sector
Closing the Hall’s of Broxburn site will also affect the country’s pig industry as the plant processed 8,000 pigs each week, half of which were reared in Scotland.
To find a solution to the problem, the government is working with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the organisation SPP (Scottish Pig Producers) and the National Farmers’ Union Scotland (NFUS) to look at the options available to the sector.
Managing director of SPP Gordon Mcken explained the cost of production was a big issue for pig producers in the country and now many would have to consider transporting their livestock to England if they wanted to keep producing. He told GlobalMeatNews.com: “Transportation is expensive and will add more money to the cost of production for farmers.”
However, QMS chairman Jim McLaren said that although the closure of Hall’s was disappointing, the Scottish pig industry would now be able to move forward into a new chapter. “[It] will see the opportunity to restructure pig processing in Scotland, from which I am confident the industry will emerge even stronger and sharper,” he said.
“Our discussions with a number of the operators of other plants currently processing pigs have proved promising. I am optimistic about the potential for these companies to absorb a significant portion of the pig processing capacity currently undertaken at Broxburn, taking advantage of the Specially Selected Pork brand, which is currently generating record consumer awareness. Clearly, retailer support is also vital at this time.”