NFUS seeks help in securing chicken sector

NFU Scotland (NFUS) has urged the Scottish government and retailers to help in securing the future and growth of the chicken industry.

Union president Nigel Miller sent a letter to cabinet secretary Richard Lochhead asking for support for public procurement body Scotland Excel, to ensure it can source more Scottish chicken. The NFUS wants the government to help with the Scotland Excel’s costs in switching supplies to Scottish chicken.

The NFUS said the 2 Sisters Food Group’s restructuring plans had left an uncertain future for many chicken growers in Scotland, and it wanted a safeguarded grower base to secure future progress.

Miller said: “We are at a crucial juncture for those growers in Scotland who are facing an uncertain future. The growers in the north of Scotland alone produce more than 6m chickens per year and are therefore central to any future growth of the industry in Scotland.

“The future prosperity of these growers has significant knock-on implications for Scottish agriculture as a whole, as they require more than 20,000 tonnes of Scottish cereals a year when rearing their birds for the table.

“That is why we call on the Scottish Government to offer some kind of financial support in the interim period to keep these growers in production, and we believe this is best targeted at Scotland Excel where there is scope and some appetite for sourcing Scottish chicken for public contracts.

The union also wrote to retailers who source chicken from 2 Sisters, asking supermarkets to consider sourcing more fresh chicken from Scotland.  

Miller added: “With regards to the retailers, we ask that they consider carefully the implications of their future sourcing practices of Scottish chicken, and their help can ensure we keep chicken production going across the country. We ask for their support in retaining the production from these growers, through maximising the volume or range of products that they source in Scotland.”

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