The move is designed to increase Smithfield Foods’ focus on processed white meats and provides an opportunity for growth.
The facility will produce steamed and roasted chickens, as well as coated products, such as nuggets and steaks, as the UK’s appetite for frozen convenience food rises.
According to Kantar Worldpanel, frozen breaded and coated poultry has grown 13.5% year-on-year in the UK and has added £66.5m to the category value. Eurostat Consumption for the UK reported that, in 2017, the population consumed 36.3kg of chicken per capita, which was 41% of all meat eaten in the UK during that period.
Alongside the investment, Smithfield Foods is also expanding its pre-marinated chicken business, working with outlets to simplify the process for restaurant kitchens. The pre-marinated chicken service aims to speed up outlet covers, increase profitability for restaurant chains, help manage stock and improve consumer experience.
Ian Lindsay, managing director at Smithfield Foods, said: “Currently the UK imports close to 980,000mt of chicken each year to keep up with demand, and we believe demand for these types of products will continue to strengthen as consumers look for convenience in home, and higher expectations out of home.”
Smithfield’s Europe division operates several Polish companies, including Animex Foods, Agri Plus and Agri Plus Feed, employing 9,000 people and working with more than 2,300 hog farmers.