AHDB has announced that it hopes to complete the sale of its commercial subsidiary Meat and Livestock Commercial Services Limited (MLCSL) to Hallmark Veterinary Compliance Services within the next few months.
The livestock and meat sectors raised a number of concerns when the planned sale of AHDB’s carcase grading service was first announced in March this year. AHDB said the sale was intended to to help secure the long-term future of independent, manual, carcase classification services in Great Britain.
But concerns were raised bout Hallmark’s ability to deliver the service and the loss of independence and lack of industry oversight if the service moves into private hands. There were also fears it could push up prices.
But AHDB said ‘substantial progress’ has now been made on addressing the concerns raised by industry, and Defra has been kept fully informed.
Jane King, AHDB Chief Executive, said: “A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes by all concerned and we are now moving towards the end of the sale process.
“We have listened to feedback from industry and approved the creation of an industry-led oversight committee to monitor the independence of the business after the sale is completed.
“We are now awaiting official confirmation that the sale can go ahead.
“I would like to thank all MLCSL staff for their professionalism and patience while this process has been ongoing.”
The move is in response to a challenging business environment and the need to respond to new technology classification systems, such as VIA.
AHDB said it believed that by moving the business into the private sector with a company that has a strong track record of delivering independent services to the meat industry, it will open up opportunities for greater efficiencies and synergies that would not be possible under the current public ownership model and secure the future of the business.
No job losses are anticipated as part of the change of ownership.
A year-long process was undertaken to identify suitable companies that met robust criteria set down by the AHDB Board, including value for money, track record of delivering independent verification services to the meat industry and commitment to the long term future of the business.