Brand new beef processing plant opens in Shropshire

A new £10m state-of-the-art meat plant has been opened, with an eye for the export market.

Pickstock Telford unveiled its 85,000ft² beef processing plant in Hortonwood, Telford in Shropshire, with secretary of state Owen Paterson officially opening the site this week (2 June).

Formerly known as Pickstock Ashby, having started operating in 2003 in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, South Derbyshire, the company’s new home is one of the only plants in Europe to have everything under one roof – with lairage, a meat processing facility, on-site cold stores, and despatch, as well as a boning and packing plant.

The plant employs more than 100 people, representing a 40% increase on the previous site. The company said it planned to grow this further, with managing director Greg Pickstock telling MTJ he hoped to see a 30% growth in the future. The site is the result of a £10m investment, £830,000 of which was contributed by Defra.

At the celebratory launch, secretary for environment, food and rural affairs Paterson unveiled the plaque. He said: “I would like to heartily congratulate the Pickstock team for bringing this fantastic state-of-the-art plant to Shropshire. It’s an absolutely core project for what I’m trying to achieve at Defra.

“I’ve set four priorities at Defra: one is to grow the rural economy; second is to improve the environment; and the other two are to protect the country from animal disease, and to protect the country from plant disease – and I reckon you’ve scored pretty heavily on three.”

According to Pickstock Telford, the site is dedicated to environmental performance, with heat exchange sytems running off the refrigeration system and air compressors, along with a rain water harvesting system. There are also apparently plans for the installation of an anaerobic digester. Another priority, the company said, is animal welfare, with lairage designed to replicate the animals’ natural environment.

Greg Pickstock added: “By making this investment it has brought the company to a new level and it is now capable of supplying a whole range of customers from the local butcher’s shop to the largest retailer with UK beef. These customers can buy with confidence knowing that we have designed the plant with the latest technology, enabling us to produce a high standard product, excellent working conditions for our staff and ensuring our environmental responsibilities are met, reducing the usage of water, energy and packaging, as well as minimising waste.”

The new site is significant for the UK’s export progress since much of the product will be sent abroad. Bpex export manager Jean-Pierre Garnier, told MTJ: “It’s very exciting; we don’t very often have a site of this quality opening in our country, so it’s great news.”

Paterson added: “When it comes to exporting and negotiating with foreign governments, we want to stress the very tight, well-organised production systems we have in this country, and you wouldn’t get a better example than this: a complete state-of-the-art plant, absolutely brand new with £10m investment, the latest kit, the latest technology, the latest design, and finally obviously, the meat comes from Shropshire, so it tastes good. We will only compete in world markets if we are as good as this place.”

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