Scottish growers to be laid off by 2 Sisters

Contract broiler growers in Scotland supplying 2 Sisters Food Group have been put on two flocks’ notice and asked to take a 5p/kg price drop for their remaining birds.

A producer meeting was held in Dundee on Wednesday morning (20 November), following a a company announcement that it was restructuring its Scottish operation.

A letter sent to all 2 Agriculture staff by director of agriculture Lionel Halls explained that the 2 Sisters’ Letham plant in Forfar was being sold off, while the Coupar Angus plant in Perthshire, acquired from Vion earlier this year, was being downsized.

“The second announcement has the potential to impact the 2 Agriculture business in Scotland and as a result we have started a review to fully understand what this means to us,” he said.

What it meant was made apparent to contract growers at the Dundee meeting. Production at Coupar Angus was set to be cut from more than 600,000 birds a week to just 450,000 birds a week, with that supply being met by in-house production.

One grower attending the meeting said this would decimate broiler production in the north of Scotland. Those who had been persuaded to invest in higher welfare production, such as windows and direct heating, would lose a market for their birds and would shut down. “It absolutely stinks,” he said.

A statement from 2 Sisters blamed an oversupply of poultry in Scotland, which had historically been its least efficient manufacturing base. “There is also evidence of a decline in the UK poultry market due to changes in consumer demand. This situation is unsustainable,” said a spokesman.

“We are working with our colleagues to maintain a viable operation at our factory in Coupar Angus, which will allow us time to create a more competitive environment as we look to strengthen Scottish sales and build demand for Scottish chicken.

“Taking no action would put the future of our industry in Scotland at serious risk.”

There would be inevitable redundancies at Coupar Angus and a change in shift patterns, and the company had started a period of consultation.

“At Letham, we have worked hard to secure a future for the site, and we’ve found a buyer who will tap into new niche market opportunities, where it will be much more competitive in the market place,” added the spokesman.

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