SUPERMARKET MORRISONS is set to increase significantly the beef and lamb throughput at its Turriff plant in Aberdeenshire from this autumn.
Although the firm declined to say what its total outlay would be, the move marks the first significant investment in lamb processing in Scotland for many years.
It should see the plant, which Morrisons bought in January from the Kepak group, processing up to 8000 lambs and 1000 cattle a week.
The news came as a welcome relief to the industry which, following last month’s closure of ABP’s lamb processing plant in Bathgate, West Lothian, had faced the prospect of having to send more lambs south of the border for slaughter.
Jim Walker, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said: “This increase in lamb processing, taken together with indications from other plants in Scotland that they will up their kill numbers this year, too, will at least cover the numbers we thought we would lose with the closure of Bathgate.”
Even so, lack of processing capacity means that about half the country’s three million lambs still have to be slaughtered in England and Wales.
Ross Finnie, Scotland’s rural development minister, said the Scottish Executive would do all it could to ensure that Morrisons’ planned investment could be fully realised.
“Scotland has, in the past, relied on the export of lamb carcasses – a market that is now no longer sustainable. Further processing of the quality lamb we produce must be the way forward if the industry is to develop.”