FARMFED CHICKENS of Northern Ireland has announced the loss of a contract to supply Sainsbury‘s British stores.

The family-owned poultry processor said last week that it would only be supplying fresh whole chickens for the retailer‘s nine local stores.

More than 10% of the 390-strong workforce will be lost at the firm’s Coleraine-based factory after an eleventh hour deal was struck to save further cuts.

“By working very closely with Sainsbury‘s we have secured additional business to supply poultry for use in their ready meals,” said managing director Garth Henry.

“We are also looking at ways to extend our ranges within Sainsbury’s in Northern Ireland.”

Farmfed‘s producers would not be affected, a spokesman added, as processing would continue at the same rate of 30m kg/year.

A Sainsbury‘s spokesman said the supermarket had retained the same number of chicken suppliers across the UK, but volumes had been switched in line with a recent review of sourcing.

“We are committed to offering our customers more of the products they want, including local produce, which also contributes to the rural economy.

“We have regional development programmes which support local firms in meeting our quality standards and supply requirements.”