Scotland’s biggest pork plant could double its processing capacity after receiving almost £2.7m from the Scottish government.

AP Jess will use the money to create 20 full-time jobs, maintain 42 others and upgrade the facilities at its plant in Brechin, Angus.

The UK’s largest processor Tulip Ltd will buy all the pork from the plant, after announcing last year it would invest £4m in Brechin to boost slaughtering capacity from 4,000 to 8,000 pigs a week, dependent on the site gaining a government grant.

The announcement comes a year after Scotland’s processing capacity was severely hit by the closure of Vion’s Broxburn plant, which accounted for 80% of Scottish pig processing.

Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead told the NFUS AGM at St Andrews the investment would help rebuild supply chain capacity in an industry where Scottish farmers produce £81m of pigmeat a year.

“A new chapter beckons for our pig industry,” he said. “I am confident this investment will, in time, increase the size of the Scottish pig herd and the volume of the Scottish Selected Pork going into the market.”

Managing director of marketing co-operative Scottish Pig Producers Ltd Gordon McKen welcomed the cash injection.

“The Scottish government grant allocated for the Brechin site is excellent news for the Scottish pig industry, allowing significant expansion at the site,” he said.

“The Brechin site is ideally placed in our main pig producing area and the planned upgrade will give producers confidence to invest, allowing us to grow our industry.”

AP Jess managing director Allan Jess thanked the Scottish government for its support.

“I am delighted that the Scottish government has decided to support this investment, one of the largest ever in the Scottish pork industry,” he said.

In the third quarter of 2013, 70,000 pigs were slaughtered in Scotland, just under 3% of the UK’s total kill.

If the Brechin plant were able to process 8,000 pigs a week, its capacity would roughly equate to 70% of Scottish slaughterings, based on 2012 production.

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