Meat processing boost for North-east

A new partnership has been announced in a groundbreaking move which will see the creation of a multi-million pound meat processing facility in the North-east.

The project involves Scotbeef, Scotch Premier Meat, and Mathers (Inverurie) Ltd.

The landmark agreement signals a new era for the Scottish meat processing industry, bringing together three of the most prominent names in the business in a collaboration aimed at safeguarding and developing the meat processing sector in the North of Scotland.

As well as consolidating the SPM and Mathers businesses, a new state-of-the-art meat processing facility is planned for the Thainstone Agricultural Centre, near Inverurie, which is the headquarters of the ANM Group, the parent company of SPM.

The newly created enterprise will be led by Robbie Galloway, the managing director of J.W. Galloway (who own Scotbeef and Vivers), supported by ANM Group chief executive Pat Machray, and with Mathers’ managing director, Michael Mountford in the on-going role of site director.

Based on the business model of Scotbeef’s successful processing facility at Bridge of Allan, near Stirling, the new Thainstone development will provide primary processing services for farmers, retailers, export, independent butchers and other customers.

The ultra-modern facility will aim to be the most energy efficient of its kind in Europe and will remove the current processing operations from what has become a residential area of Inverurie.

The new company will initially run the current SPM and Mathers operations in tandem before they are consolidated at North Street, Inverurie, to maximise efficiency. A period of consultation with the 230 employees at both companies will be carried out. The intention is to retain as many of The positions as possible, however it is likely that there will be some job losses.

Robbie Galloway said: “These are extremely challenging times for the meat processing industry in Scotland with the twin pressures of a shortage of raw materials and the continuous price pressure from customers.

“To ensure sustainable business, efficient facilities are now a prerequisite. The interim consolidation of SPM and Mathers, which we will oversee, into one facility at Inverurie, followed by the relocation of the business to a new state-of-the-art facility at Thainstone will provide that and a platform for future growth.”

Mr. Galloway added: “This will need to involve assistance from the public sector, significant efforts from all concerned and no little pain in the short term. We are committed to a viable and long term business in the North-east and will work hard to deliver that.”

The announcement has been welcomed by Richard Lochhead, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, who said: “I am delighted to hear about these welcome plans to secure meat processing at Thainstone which I’m sure will be good news for farmers and the wider community. The three businesses involved should be commended for their strategic vision.  The Scottish Government will work with the companies to support this development over the next few years.”

Jim McLaren, chairman of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), the public body responsible for supporting the Scottish red meat sector and improving its efficiency, said: “This is tremendous news which sends a positive message to all those involved in the Scottish red meat industry. As well as heralding innovation and collaboration in our industry, today’s announcement of a pioneering partnership and plans for investment in a state-of-the-art facility for the North-east of Scotland signals confidence we can all share in the future of our industry.

“Without question our processors have been experiencing a period of turbulence and it is vital our industry continues to be forward looking and seizes opportunities to increase its efficiency and sustainability.”

NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller added: “It was vital to producers in the North-east that the area retained an outlet to sell and promote its premium and iconic red meat brands and this is an exciting development.  

“This is a partnership that brings together companies with a proven track record in the Scottish livestock and meat sectors and looks ideally suited to tackle the huge challenges that our processing sector continues to face.  

“It heralds a route to ensuring that the long tradition of meat processing continues in Inverurie and delivers real value and confidence to all those involved in producing quality beef and lamb in the area.”