In March, the board of Orkney Meat announced the decision to cease production at its Hatston abattoir because of “continued difficult trading conditions in the meat sector”. Orkney Island Council (OIC) stepped in to take over the plant and, in May, announced that the butcher’s – Orkney Meat Processors – would take on a weekly abattoir service as a temporary measure between June and September to enable a taskforce to seek ways of maintaining abattoir services on Orkney in both the short and longer term.
The taskforce involved the OIC, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Zero Waste Scotland and SAOS, the umbrella organisation for Scottish farming and food co-operatives, providing help and support.
Council convener, Councillor Stephen Heddle, said: “Our immediate priority was an interim solution – working
together we were all committed to finding a way forward.
“In providing a once-a-week operation at the Hatston facility, the butchers are ensuring that Orkney Beef and
Orkney Lamb continue to be available from local outlets.
“Getting to this stage has involved a great deal of hard work by everyone involved and it means we now have time to explore the longer-term options with potential service providers for a more permanent abattoir or meat business based in Orkney.”
The taskforce is expected to meet again later this year..
There has also been some progress in the sale of Caithness Beef and Lamb in Wick, the £4m state-of-the-art Scottish processing plant that went into administration in May before ever opening for business.
Administrator RSM Tenon told Meatinfo that the plant had had a number of interested parties, but was still on the market. A spokesman said:”To date there have been over 25 enquiries and a small number of site visits, and the administrators remain hopeful that a buyer may be found for the facility, in whole or in part, during the coming months.”