The announcement by Moy Park to temporarily close its Ballymena processing plant and North Antrim Hatchery has been described as “yet another blow” for poultry producers of the region by the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

UFU deputy president, David Brown said, “Moy Park’s announcement is yet another blow to Northern Ireland poultry producers.

“Many are already facing massive cash flow pressures within their businesses following the recent amendment to RHI tariffs and this news is likely to mean a further income hit.

“Moy Park is Northern Ireland’s largest employer and made profits of over £72 million in 2017.

While the firm has said the decision is temporary, producers are very disappointed that the company cannot stand by them during this period of weaker demand.

The deputy president noted that, in recent years, retailers have been reluctant to pass on inflationary rises and the cost of the living wage to consumers, adding that there is continuous pressure for the supply chain to reduce its costs.

“Yet again we have seen this squeeze come onto the primary producer and there is a very real risk that some farmers will have to close their business,” Brown concluded.

Partial closure for 2019

Yesterday, Wednesday, April 3, a spokesperson for Moy Park said:

“Moy Park is proposing to temporarily cease processing live birds at Ballymena due to challenging market conditions, with the view that we will re-open the line in January 2020.

In line with this it is proposed the North Antrim Hatchery will temporarily cease hatching until November 2019.

“We will continue to cut, further process and pack at Ballymena, including retail production of our BBQ products,” the representative for the firm added.

“We are currently working with our colleagues and their representatives doing our utmost to minimise the impact of this proposal on our excellent workforce, including offering temporary transfers to other shifts and roles.

“We will also be working closely with our farming partners throughout the process to manage this temporary reduction in poultry requirement.”