21 January 2000
Malton shuts Northern Irish pig plant
by Alistair Driver
AROUND 200 jobs are set to be lost following the closure of Malton Foods pig processing plant in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
The closure, announced on Friday (21 Jan), is a blow to Ulsters pig farmers and will send further shivers down the spines of producers in the rest of the UK.
Closure of the plant, which produces 300,000 consumer packs of bacon each week, will take place in April.
A company spokesman said the closure reflected over-capacity in the sector. But Maltons other plants in Northern Ireland would continue to operate, he added.
Malton boss Max Hilliard said the decision was taken with “great regret” but had to be taken to maintain efficiency in the company.
He blamed an increasingly competitive retail market for bacon.
The last year has seen an increasing quantity of pigmeat imported into the UK, encouraged by the strong pound and often lower costs of production abroad.
Although a massive blow to the industry, the Enniskillen closure comes on the heels of big losses last year and the closure of plants in Evesham and Spalding.
On the prospect of further contraction for the company the Malton spokesman said: “We will continue to review our operation.”
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) said the closure highlights the devastating decline in the pig industry which was once a major employer in Northern Ireland.
Will Taylor, UFU president questioned how long it would be before there were other similar announcements and more job losses in the province.
“We see one plant after another closing its doors and producers have been losing money for over two years,” he said