Food manufacturer Cranswick has bought Dunbia’s Northern Ireland pig-processing division, in another sign of abattoir consolidation.
Dunbia Ballymena employs 360 people and kills about 7,800 farm-assured pigs each week, turning over more than £70m last year.
Dunbia executive director Jack Dobson, who founded the company with his brother Jack in the 1970s, will support Cranswick’s new business in a consultancy role.
Cranswick CEO Adam Couch said the buyout would give his company more control over the supply chain, so it could continue meeting customers’ requirements for UK farm-assured pork.
“The management at Ballymena have created long-lasting and sustained supply chain relations and we look forward to building on this and continuing to invest in the facilities and the team, over the years ahead,” he said.
Tight margins in the meat trade have pushed the biggest players in the sector to pick up competitors or group together.
In the spring, Dunbia was rumoured to be merging its red meat division with rival 2 Sisters Food Group.
But reports over the summer suggested that talks had stalled.
Dunbia also processes more than 300,000 cattle and one million lambs each year, for food service, wholesale and retail customers, including Sainsbury’s.
Before the pork sale, its revenue was close to £800m and the company employed about 4,000 people.