Isle of Man Meats tender process fails to find operator

The beleaguered Isle of Man meat plant will continue to operate while the government puts in place a strategy to secure its longer-term future, following the failure to find a new operator.

In a bid to reduce the burden to the taxpayer, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) had undergone a process to find a private operator to take over the running of the meat plant. However, the tender process did not identify a preferred bidder that met all the criteria set down by the Department. Due to declining sales, it required an annual government subvention in 2016, which was more than £1.3 million.

The plant, which slaughters cattle, sheep and pigs from local farms, is currently run by Isle of Man Meats and a co-operative of farmers under the Fatstock Marketing Association (FMA).

DEFA said it would announce a detailed plan before the end of 2017, setting out an effective way forward for the Tromode facility. The Department is now working on a revised solution that delivers a new business structure with a commercial board and improved pricing to farmers.

Initial discussions with the FMA and other key stakeholders within the farming industry have already taken place and been described as “positive”, with more meetings due to take place in December.

Geoffrey Boot MHK, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said: “The farming industry is important to our economy, our landscape and our way of life. The ability to slaughter our own animals and supply local meat to local customers is integral to the success of the industry and the meat plant is a strategic asset we must retain.

“I want to reassure people that while the tender process did not identify a preferred bidder, the meat plant will remain open for business. The Department is now focused on agreeing an approach that will best serve the industry, the consumer and the public purse. I am pleased with how the preliminary discussions have gone and we should soon be in a position to share our plans following further details discussions with relevant parties.”

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