Scottish union turns to CMA over chicken market plight

The National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) has called on the government’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate the Scottish chicken market after the recent termination of a number of producers’ contracts.

The NFUS has also agreed to provide some legal support to growers after the union reported four terminations by Hook 2 Sisters last week (3 September). With the number of chickens produced in Scotland reportedly set to drop by more than seven million birds per year, and the number of independent chicken producers falling from 28 to just 12, NFUS is concerned that “Scottish consumers face the prospect of being unable to buy Scottish chicken in their local supermarket”. The union added: “Without urgent action the Scottish government’s own Poultry Plan, produced in December 2013, will be redundant.”

The latest round of terminations has led NFUS to contact the CMA, claiming that what the union is seeing in Scotland doesn’t represent the normal functioning of market forces. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which preceded the CMA, investigated the takeover of Vion by 2 Sisters last year and authorised the move. However, the NFUS “feels the actions taken since then within the industry go against the reassurances given to the OFT during its original investigation and require a second look by the CMA”.

NFUS president Nigel said: “Scotland’s chicken growers have reached a crisis point. The events of the last few months will see production virtually cease around the north east, with very much a small island of activity left around Angus.

“This has all happened behind the veil of an aspirational Poultry Plan to provide consolidation to Scottish production and to grow it at the same time. In reality, in the last few months, the supply chain has halved.

“The demand is there for quality Scottish chicken and we have the growers willing and able to meet this demand. It is a disgrace that we could be heading towards a situation where there might be little or no chicken produced within Scotland.”

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