Cargill Meats Europe is the latest integrator to extend capacity for poultry production, announcing that it will plough £35m into facilities over the next 36 months.

The company is to refurbish its existing Hereford processing plant, increasing capacity and improving efficiency.

It has already installed controlled atmosphere stunning and updated bird reception facilities at the site, and the next stage will be improvements to chilling facilities and an extension to a company hatchery, also in Hereford.

Pilar Cruz, managing director, said the investment would position the business for future growth. “This is an exciting time for the poultry industry and, as demand for fresh chicken grown in the UK continues to rise amongst retailers and consumers, we aim to position ourselves to better support this.

“Cargill’s investment plans will not only help us support our customers, but also local farmers and the industry as a whole,” she added.

Poultry meat consumption has seen steady growth in the last few years, and the UK industry has benefited from retailers seeking shorter supply chains. A number of other integrators have recently announced expansion or investment plans.

“We want to update, improve efficiency, and increase capacity,” Cargill agricultural director John Reed told Poultry World.

“The first thing is to create the space, but we will then be looking to increase our farming base,” he said. It was early days for firm numbers, he added, saying that would depend on demand and the retail environment when refurbishments were completed.

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November’s Poultry World magazine reports on those businesses planning to boost chicken output and take on new farmers. Are you a subscriber?