Expansion for Country Valley

A leading meat business is investing in its future with a significant plan to increase capacity.

The move could also offer new opportunities for farmers and abattoirs in northern England, the company claimed.

Darlington-based Country Valley Foods - which supplies quality beef, lamb, pork, poultry, bacon, game and delicatessen products across northern England - is to expand its maturation and processing facilities to four times their current size, allowing the firm to handle 75 cattle per week compared to the current 15.

The company said the move would create new jobs and training opportunities and give more farmers the chance to supply meat to the company's premium 'Grand Reserve' brand.

It will also see faster throughput in the region's abattoirs by reducing the time the beef has to stay in the abattoir before it is moved to a purpose-built, long-term maturation chiller.

The facility will also be available, on contract, for farms and businesses wanting to market their own product directly.

The expansion is being supported with more than £100,000 of investment from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) in the region, managed by One NorthEast.

James Munro, Country Valley managing director, said: "This additional investment from RDPE enables us to further develop our premium Grand Reserve Beef and Lamb brand and, in conjunction with local farmers, produce some of the finest beef in the country."

The expansion will be made possible by relocating some of Country Valley's existing services to a new site, then converting the current premises with new maturation chillers; railing, weighing and traceability systems; a beef line; processing hall; and a bespoke computerised weighing and labelling system.

The work is expected to create the equivalent of six new full-time jobs, and is set to begin this month. The new facilities should be up and running by the end of the year.