18 September 1998

Unigate wins backing

NORTHERNIrish farmers have welcomed Unigates recent acquisition of pigmeat processor Unipork, hoping that the move will cut the growing backlog of pigs on farms.

Unigate, which owns Malton Foods, the UKs largest pigmeat processor, bought Uniporks parent company Roata for a total consideration of £27m.

Unipork has two processing plants, at Cookstown and Ennis-killen, which recorded a turnover of £55.89m in the year to June.

The move should ease problems caused by the fire which destroyed Unigate subsidiary Lovell and Christmass Ballymoney plant, says Wesley Aston of the Ulster Farmers Union. The factory had been killing about 8000 pigs a week.

Shipments to mainland Britain and increased killing by other proc- essors could not fully compensate for the shutdown, he adds. But he hopes that increased investment by Unigate will change that. "Uni-pork had the capacity to handle more pigs, but not the funding."

Unigate, which has also acqu-ired a vacant factory at Ahoghill and is reviewing plans for the Ballymoney site, says that more killing capacity is a priority. Extra throughput at Cookstown could account for 2000 pigs a week. &#42