‘Devastating blow’ for Scotland’s chicken industry

The Scottish chicken industry has been dealt a “devastating blow” after contracts with four free-range producers were terminated, according to NFU Scotland (NFUS).

NFUS has reported that with processors already stopping business with a number of producers after similar announcements in 2013 and earlier in 2014, the number of independent chicken producers in Scotland has fallen from 28 to 16 and the number of chickens produced in Scotland will fall by an estimated seven million birds per year.

The union said these restructurings have not only “devastated” Scottish chicken production but have put 72 jobs in the rural north east of Scotland at risk. The loss of chicken production is also likely to hit the feed market.

NFUS said: “Without a significant turnaround in sourcing policy and the creation of new processing facilities in Scotland, the production of 1.3 million free-range birds in Scotland will come to an end by the end of September.”

NFUS president Nigel Miller added: “Research shows that 93% of Scottish shoppers think it is important that Scottish poultry is available in Scottish shops. As this situation unfolds, it begins to look like this will become extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve.
“One year ago there were 28 independent growers in Scotland. There are now 16, 12 of whom supply Hook 2 Sisters. This is a loss of nearly seven million birds per year. At a time when the UK retail poultry market is predicted to grow 26% over the next five years, from £4.6bn to £5.8bn, it is unthinkable that the Scottish industry should miss out on this fantastic opportunity.

“Hook 2 Sisters must now be entirely open with their growers if anyone is to have confidence and be willing to invest. At the same time, the Scottish Government must be proactive in supporting crucial processing capacity.”

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