Brazilian-owned poultry producer Moy Park has announced it will acquire O’Kane Poultry in a takeover which will change the face of production in Northern Ireland.
The acquisition will see Moy Park expand to employ about 8500 people across Northern Ireland as well as contracting about 760 farmers supplying chicken and turkey.
“By bringing the resources and expertise of Moy Park and O’Kane Poultry together we are creating a business with the scale and sustainability of supply needed to meet the very significant opportunities that exist across Europe.” Moy Park chief executive Nigel Dunlop said.
Moy Park, a subsidiary of Brazilian food company Marfrig, is Northern Ireland’s largest food processor and one of Europe’s leading poultry producers.
O’Kane Poultry operates out of Ballymena and employees about 1500 people, supplying chicken and turkey products to the retail and food services industry throughout the UK and Ireland.
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) said the acquisition ushered in a “new era” for production in Northern Ireland. “This is a major development in the agri-food industry,” UFU president John Thompson said.
“The poultry sector has been a big success story for Northern Ireland agriculture, offering hundreds of farming families the opportunity to diversify their businesses into profitable poultry production.”
Recently O’Kane Poultry suppliers have been expressing concerns about bird performance following the introduction of a new breed of slow-growing bird. Last week about 220 producers met with UFU officials in Ballymena to express their concerns over the new breeds and the price they had been getting.
Mr Thompson said he was positive a settlement could be reached with the new company.
“We have been working closely with O’Kane growers in recent times seeking to resolve a production problem which they are facing,” he said. “I am confident that we will be able to resolve this with Moy Park and ensure the growers are integrated successfully and enjoy a profitable future with the company.”
Moy Park said it expected to receive regulatory approval for the takeover by early autumn.