Isle of Man meat plant to seek private operator

The Isle of Man Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) has decided to seek private operators for the island’s meat plant in an effort to make it more competitive and save public money. 

The measure is being taken against a “backdrop of increasing live exports and a decrease in local sales of Manx meat”.

The plant is run by Isle of Man Meats, a cooperative of farmers, and requires an annual government subvention. In 2016, this rose to nearly £1.4 million. A report by Isle of Man Newspapers revealed that the plant made a loss of £1.2m in 2015, which was reduced to £587,941 following a government subsidy.

The proposal was one of four shortlisted by a steering group that considered an industry expert’s report on ways of making the plant more profitable.

The group is made up of DEFA, Isle of Man Meats, the Manx National Farmers’ Union and the Agricultural Marketing Society.

Seeking expressions of interest will enable would-be operators to hold discussions with DEFA prior to the Department formally seeking tenders.

Tenderers will be expected to present strong business cases and marketing plans and commit to standards of service.

It is hoped to complete the process within the next year.

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: “After close consideration of all the options, the steering group concluded that securing a private operator would be the best solution for the agriculture industry and the taxpayer. Agriculture is vital to our economy and part of our unique heritage and culture. The meat plant is a strategic asset for the Island. A commercial operator with a strong market focus and an eye on innovation can turn around the fortunes of the plant and this will support the industry.”

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