The possible overseas takeover of one of the UK’s biggest meat processors caused concern at last week’s NFU Scotland AGM.
Three overseas firms are said to be interested in purchasing the struggling Grampian Country Food Group, which is the country’s largest chicken and pig processor and one of its biggest beef and lamb slaughterers.
Privately owned Dutch meat giant Vion and Sadia, a Brazilian pork and poultry supplier, have both been linked with a move for Grampian, which is thought to be worth around £400m and employs 12,500 staff in the UK and a further 5500 in Thailand.
The other contender is thought to be US private equity firm CCMP, which is believed to be backing a management buy-out of the business.
Aberdeenshire beef producer Bruce Walker said: “Have we sold out again to a foreign company which wants to legitimise its product under the British or Scottish label?” he asked.
NFUS president Jim McLaren said one of his main concerns was that significant foreign ownership of processing in Scotland could use EC rules to become a conduit for an overseas buyer to re-badge foreign product as UK or Scottish.
“We cannot underestimate the significance of that business not only to the livestock industry in Scotland but to cereals producers as well.
“It is absolutely vital for the future prosperity of Scottish agriculture that Grampian continues to operate at the same volume level as it has been,” said Mr McLaren.