Mitchells: Good run continues

INVESTMENT IS continuing at Mitchells processing plant with £3m having already been ploughed into the Angus-based business over three years. Most recently, automation facilities have been upgraded.

The company, owned by brothers, Joseph, Stephen and Michael Mitchell, has grown three-fold since 1998, entering the convenience food market after acquiring Challenger Foods. Combined turnover is around £40m with production output in excess of 25,000 tonnes of chicken meat annually. Mike says: "We believe in continual investment in the most up to date plant and equipment and have only this year spent considerable sums further upgrading the automation of our portioning process and packing."

Greater flexibility and efficiency in despatch and order assembly became possible when the new processing line, air chiller and a dispatch chill area, with four temperature controlled loading bays was installed at the plant in Letham. The plant is now capable of slaughtering 6,500 birds an hour. Mike says despite the bad press surrounding bird flu, sales remained strong. "I believe people have confidence in our products and are confident that chicken reared and processed in Scotland is of the highest quality available."

Products are processed from day one and are loaded and distributed the same evening for next day delivery nationwide. The company provides a delivery service in Scotland with regular deliveries, most daily, using a fleet of company vehicles. Mike says several drivers had more than 20 years experience, which mattered to customers."We have seen a rise in sales amongst the independent retail butchers as consumers are given confidence by the levels of service and expertise they get there compared to the faceless offering in the superstore. We are still perceived as supplying local produce, yet we are able to do this in the volumes required to satisfy demand and back it up with the service levels only a larger firm such as ourselves can provide."

A total of 250,000 chickens are processed each week, a number which has increased year-on-year for the past 10 years. Products include a chilled whole chicken range, breasts, legs, frozen, speciality, golden cooked and game bird breasts.

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