Tender process for Isle of Man meat plant to start soon

The tendering process for the meat plant on the Isle of Man is set to begin within the year, according to Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister Geoffrey Boot. 

Speaking to the House of Keys, Boot said that the tendering process was expected to begin soon.

“We are working hard in the Department to prepare a tender document and a user agreement, as it were, so we can set the parameters for procurement and that process is advanced. I cannot give a specific timescale, but we are talking months, not years.”

In February of this year, the Isle of Man Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA), as part of a committee which also included Isle of Meats, the Manx National Farmers’ Union and the Agricultural Marketing Society, decided to seek private operators for the plant after considering several other options. The decision was made to make it more competitive and save public money.

The plant received a £1.4 million (m) subsidy in 2016 and was reported to have lost £1.2m in 2015. It is currently operated by the Fatstock Marketing Association, which trades as Isle of Man Meats.

The Minister warned that if Fatstock Marketing Association were to tender for the contract, “changes will be required”.

When questioned by David Ashford, Member of the House of Keys (MHK) for Douglas North on the future plans for Isle of Man Meats, Boot said: “They [Fatstock Marketing Association] will be given every opportunity to tender for the new contract. But if they are to do that, I think it is fair to say there will be changes required to the way they operate, and particularly with the way that they have been marketing things in the past.”

However in response to a supplementary question from Jason Moorhouse, MHK for Arbory, Castletown & Malew, the Minister added that DEFA was “at present preparing tender documentation in the hope that a another operator or private operator will enter the fray, and in future operate the meat plant on a more commercial basis”.

He later clarified that Fatstock Marketing Association was not excluded from the tendering process.

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