Construction work at the new Scottish pig abattoir at Brechin is now “well underway” and on schedule for completion towards the end of this year, according to Quality Pork Limited (QPL), the company behind the development.
The multi million pound investment, which QPL says will “ensure that Scotland has sufficient capacity for all pigs born in Scotland to be slaughtered in Scotland” will effectively double the plant’s slaughter capacity, creating a state-of-the-art processing facility producing Specially Selected Pork and Red Tractor Pork for a wide range of domestic and export customers.
QPL took ownership of the site from AP Jess late last year, under a joint venture between Scottish Pig Producers and Scotlean, two producer cooperatives. The collaboration was brokered by Scottish Agriculture Organisation Society with the Scottish Government providing grant-funding of £2.7m in support of the venture.
The current investment is focused on a new slaughter line, chilling and lorry-wash facilities, which QPL chairman, Roderic Bruce, says will create a “great opportunity for new entrants to get into the pig industry.”
“Pig production is already competitive in Scotland and is unsubsidised,” he said. “With grain prices forecast to remain challenging for arable farmers, finishing pigs provides a great opportunity for farmers to add value to their grain by producing meat from home-grown cereals.”
He also revealed that Scottish Pig Producers and Scotlean Pigs are working with a number of interested parties, such as banks and feed companies, to develop a support programme for new pig producers in Scotland. In that context, they will be hosting an event for the NFUS New Generation Group during the summer to demonstrate practical pig farming, giving farmers an opportunity to get into the detail of what is involved in entering the sector.
The Brechin development is also seen as a step to enable the Scottish industry to slaughter more of its pigs within Scotland.
“Since the closure of VION’s Broxburn plant, a large proportion of the weekly kill has had to head south of the border for processing,” said QPL. “Furthermore, a considerable number of weaner pigs born in Scotland are also currently sold to English farmers for finishing and the intention is to redirect these to more local finishing, minimising transport distances and further enhance welfare.”
The picture shows the new chillers being constructed next to the existing abattoir building at Brechin