Scotland’s specialist pig abattoir at Brechin, which was officially opened earlier today, will achieve a throughout of 5500 pigs a week within the next six months, with the aim of hitting its design capacity of 7500 pigs/week as soon a “market-driven demand” justifies further expansion.
Run by Quality Pork Ltd (QPL), the plant is the result of close collaboration between Scottish Pig Producers, Scotlean and Tulip Ltd, a coming together of interests which began in 2014 and which is now committed to helping the £10m Brechin facility to realise its potential on behalf of Scottish pig producers.
“A huge amount of work has been undertaken to secure the long-term future of the Scottish pig industry and this abattoir is a critical part of that plan,” said QPL chairman and farmer, Roderic Bruce, speaking to an invited audience of farmers, retailers and allied industry representatives.
“We believe QPL is now ready and able to play a big part in reversing the past decline in the Scottish pig herd. Since the late 1990s, the Scottish herd has halved and we’re hoping that with the good processing facility, that we now have, we can start to turn that downward trend around.
“It always frustrates me to see grain from the north east of Scotland being exported to Europe and then coming back here in the form of imported pigmeat when we can do a perfectly good job of producing those products ourselves. That’s what this new facility is all about.”
Tulip’s leading director at the official opening, Andrew Saunders, head of the company’s farming division, agreed, adding that while the growth of the Brechin throughput obviously needed to match sales demand, the new plant signalled the company’s confidence in the UK pig industry and the potential for further market expansion.
“This plant has been built with exports in mind,” he said. “In that context we aspire to be USDA-approved and China-approved, opening doors to markets which are essential for us to access.”
Adding further to the plant’s throughout, of course, also requires more Scottish farmers to produce pigs and to then direct them to the Brechin plant.
According to Mr Bruce, however, the level of optimism and confidence among producers in Scotland is currently as high as he can remember. He’s also upbeat about the potential for new producers entering the sector in the near future.
“We’re getting an increasing level of interest from people who are currently working outwith the pig sector but who see it as an attractive supplement to their existing farming base,” he said. “Clearly we needed to give such people an efficient processing option for their output, a need which I’m sure all of today’s official opening guests will agree we have now done.”
Headline image shows Roderic Bruce (left) and Andrew Saunders pictured outside the Brechin facility