Orkney Meat closure “concerning”, says QMS

Orkney Meat’s decision to stop production at its Hatston abattoir has been described as “a bitter blow” for the company and the north of Scotland, according to Quality Meat Scotland (QMS).

QMS chairman Jim McLaren said: “It is very concerning that a business which has worked hard to add value locally and built an enviable reputation for quality should find it impossible to continue trading.

According to the organisation, beef and lamb processor Orkney Meat’s story is further evidence of the difficulties faced by processors across the UK. “These were brought sharply into focus with the announcement by ANM Group of a meat trading loss of almost £4m for 2011,” McLaren added.

He pointed out the need to maintain Scottish livestock numbers, adding that “any fear that an increase in stock numbers could undermine producer prices needs to be balanced against the potential impact on the future competitiveness of the whole red meat chain from the loss of key parts of our processing sector”.

Last week the board of Orkney Meat announced its decision “with great regret” to cease production at its Hatston abattoir. The company said the continued difficult trading conditions in the meat sector had prompted the decision.

“The board has explored all options available to the company, but concluded that it would be in the interests of shareholders, employees and customers to wind down the company’s operations in as orderly a manner as possible,” Orkney Meat said.

All the abattoir staff (around 30 employees) are likely to be made redundant when the plant closes down.