The closure of the Welsh Country Food (WCF) plant has resulted in the loss of more than 300 jobs in North Wales and could affect the entire Welsh sheep industry, according to Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC).
The welsh meat promotion agency fears it could lose up to half a million pounds a year in lost levies as producers seek slaughter facilities over the border in England.
Commenting on the closure, HCC chairman, Dai Davies, said the Vion’s failure to sell the plant was a “knockout punch” for large meat processing in North Wales.
Davies added: “The loss of any facility, whatever its size, is to be regretted. But for Wales to lose one of the largest processing plants in Britain, with particular strategic importance to the industry in North Wales, is disastrous.”
Dutch-based Vion food group announced their decision to sell all UK meat plants in November last year. In January, supermarket giant Asda announced it was terminating its lamb contract with WCF in favour of rival supplier Dunbia, to the frustration of the union and employees who encouraged shoppers to boycott Asda.
“The closure of Welsh Country Foods, which processed 640,000 lambs a year, will have a far reaching effect not only on the employees who will be made redundant but also on local suppliers and the wider Welsh meat industry,” said Davies.
President of the National Farmers Union Cymru, Ed Bailey, said: “This is a body blow to lamb producers across Wales and to employment on the island of Anglesey and Gwynedd. The loss of one of the biggest slaughterhouses in Wales bodes badly for an industry already suffering from low prices and increased costs.”
Unite Wales officer said: “This is clearly a sad day for our members at Welsh Country Foods, Gaerwen and a sad day for the community as a whole in Anglesey.
“We know that there was business interest in the site and were optimistic that a buyer could be found. We are very disappointed in the manner in which Vion UK has simply let this slip away - along with hundreds of jobs.”