2 Sisters' Scunthorpe poultry plant in £45m investment

2 Sisters Food Group has announced a £45m investment in its poultry plant in Scunthorpe, which it claims will create the "world's most advanced poultry plant".

The investment will introduce new robotic cells to create a fully automated process that will increase the capacity of the site by a third to 2.4m birds a week.

The investment would future-proof the Scunthorpe operation, securing more than 1,600 jobs at the site, as well as improving animal welfare, quality and presentation of the finished product, the company said. It was a critical part of the £150m poultry investment programme unveiled last year with its full-year results.

The improvements in animal welfare that are part of this investment come on top of a £10m programme to reduce campylobacter levels in poultry, which have been praised by the Food Standards Agency and have won the approval of major customers.

A 2 Sisters spokesman said:“This investment is a clear demonstration of our commitment to Scunthorpe, making this key centre the world’s most advanced poultry processing plant. 2 Sisters is in the midst of a £150m programme to revolutionise how poultry is processed in the UK for the benefit of our customers and consumers in general.”

Dan Whillock, 2 Sisters Scunthorpe general manager, added: “The whole team is delighted that Scunthorpe has been selected for such a major investment, the biggest since the site was built in 1988. It has been a huge boost to the workforce and is just reward for the hard work and dedication of our great people over the last 28 years.

"The project has taken many months of planning and our goal has always been to build a truly world class facility, using the very latest technology to ensure the highest standards of animal welfare, bio security and product quality for our customers.”

The Scunthorpe site opened in 1988 and at the time was the biggest facility of its kind in Europe at over 800,000 square feet and processing 900,000 birds per week for fresh, frozen and value added categories.

Feed mills, hatcheries and farms were constructed at the same time as the factory to ensure an extensive local agricultural base was in place in close proximity to the factory to keep animal transportation to a minimum and to optimise bio-security. Today the site processes 1.8m birds per week for major retailers.

The move hits a more upbeat note for the group following news that its pizza factory in Nottingham, which employs 600 people, was launching consultations with trades union Unite and workers over a potential 350 job losses. The development came after the company confirmed the loss of a major contract with Tesco from February 2017. 

The Protein division is the anchor of 2 Sisters’ business, producing around a third of all the poultry products consumed in the UK, as well as red meat operations and poultry products in Europe. At the end of 2015, the Group launched a £150m investment programme in the UK poultry business, which phased over three years, is designed to create a world-class and industry leading estate for poultry manufacturing.

On 21 June, 2 Sisters reported an increase in total sales to £784.5m and profit before tax of £21.9m for the third quarter of its financial year.

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