Moy Park suspends processing of live birds at Ballymena site

One of Europe's largest poultry processors, Moy Park has said no jobs have been impacted by the changes

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25 January 2022 | 0

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Chicken producer Moy Park has suspended the processing of live birds at its production unit in Ballymena, Co. Antrim.

Owned by US food giant Pilgrim’s Pride, Moy Park is Northern Ireland’s largest private sector employer, providing jobs for 6,000 people across its network of operations.

It is understood that the company is struggling with rising input prices caused by an increase in energy costs, as well as experiencing difficulties hiring employees following the implementation of new UK immigration rules following Brexit.

Due to “customer growth and labour market challenges”, Moy Park said it was proposing that staff would move from the Ballymena-based live bird processing line to other processing lines.

A spokesperson said that “no jobs will be impacted by these changes”. However, he added that the group is “planning to temporarily pause live bird processing at Ballymena as we focus on seasonal and retail products”.

“The live processing line will restart again in September,” he said. “We will be working closely with our farming partners throughout the process to manage this temporary reduction in poultry requirement.”

Handling more than 5.7 million birds every week, Moy Park is one of Europe’s biggest poultry processors and the company generated sales of £1.6 billion (€1.9bn) in 2019.

In response, the Ulster Farmers’ Union expressed “deep concern” about the move. UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “Our members are extremely disappointed and worried about Moy Park pulling back on production here.

“It is the second time this has happened in less than three years and will create ongoing income pressures. Poultry producers have been hit hard in recent times and they’ve been exhausting every avenue to sustain their family farm businesses.”

Irvine added that the union will be liaising closely with Moy Park to ensure the suspension is managed with minimal impact. He added that Moy Park said it hoped to get the Ballymena site operating once more in September when a major contract with Sainsbury’s is due to begin.

The Irish Times reports Brazilian meat giant JBS sold Moy Park to Colorado-based food group Pilgrim’s Pride in 2017 in a deal wherein the company was valued at €1.1 billion.

 

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