Brechin pork plant owners QPL purchased by Browns Food Group

The company that runs Scotland’s biggest pork processing plant, at Brechin, has been purchased by the Browns Food Group. 

The Brechin site has been owned by Quality Pork Ltd (QPL), in a close collaboration between Scottish Pig Producers (SPP), and Scotlean, both pig farmer cooperatives, and Pilgrim’s Pride UK, which was the sole customer at the site.

Long-established Scottish company Browns described the purchase as ‘an exciting new development for both companies which will ensure a promising future for Scottish pork while supporting the existing established markets’.

“The completion of this sale will be followed by a short period of time where we work to ensure the seamless transition of QPP into the Browns Food Group,” it said.

The acquisition ends Pilgrim’s direct involvement at QPP Brechin and means a shake-up of how the plant is run. It is a full acquisition by Browns Food Group so the two producer groups will not be directly involved going forward.

However, Andy McGowan, managing director of SPP,  said the producer cooperative has been working with Browns for many years already and he expects the ‘close collaboration’ to continue.

He said: “This fantastic news gives long-term market security for our hard-pressed pig farmers and we are excited to work with Browns Food Group and the skilled team at Quality Pork Processors to develop new and innovative market opportunities for Specially Selected Pork.

“It allows us to get back to doing what we do best – family farms cooperating to provide the Scottish public with affordable, nutritious, high quality food.”

Martin Morgan, executive manager of the Scottish Association of Meat Wholesalers, said: “Browns Food Group has a fantastic track record of supporting the Scottish red meat industry and we are delighted that they will be applying their business acumen, strength and experience to the development of this important sector.”

Browns Food Group

Established in 1885 and based in Dumfriesshire, the Browns Food Group operates from seven manufacturing sites, producing and supplying an extensive range in quality cooked meats, including salmon, poultry, pre-sliced and whole joints of cooked meat, convenience foods and a variety of delicatessen items. It product range ‘extends well into the thousands’.

Among the brands it owns is well-known Scottish food brand Hall’s, acquired in 2013.

The Brechin plant has been suffering over the past year, particularly following the loss of its China export licence due to a Covid outbreak in January 2021. In September, with the site existing on low throughput, Pilgrim’s said the QPL abattoir in Brechin had become ‘unsustainable’ and revealed it was in crisis talks with other interested parties about its future.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.