Plans for the Dumfries and Galloway Food Co-operative's proposed facility, a small modern abattoir and meat cutting and packing facility, will be on view at the second stage of a public consultation process being held in Dalbeattie this Friday, February 25 from 4pm to 7pm.
DGFC project vice chairman Maggie Gordon said the horsemeat scare had added momentum to their work: "We are fortunate to have local butchers who know where their animals come from and it is about supporting that trade so that you can walk down the high street and get what you want."
Monthly throughput for proposed abattoir is envisaged at 300 cattle, 700 sheep and 200 pigs, based on the 12-month figure from the business plan. The project has received major backing from the Scottish Government through a European grant of £1.2 million towards its design and construction.
Scottish Enterprise project officer Daniel Hird said: "The missing link in the food chain is the fact that we don't have a modern abattoir and cutting plant. That is one of the main focusses of this project, to give the smaller scale businesses, access to this type of facility all done to the latest modern standards.
"It will allow them to effectively use the facility to grow their businesses, not just producing quality productions for consumption within the region, but also to start exporting some of their products outwith the region.
"We are actually the biggest livestock-producing region in Scotland but when you look at the capacity for abattoirs and cutting plants, we just don't have any," said Mr Hird. "All that job creation and value added activity is taking place elsewhere but yet we have the foundation here but we are not using it."
Ms Gordon reassured local butchers and other outlets that there never had been and there was no plan to have retail outlets at the facility: "I think this facility will safeguard local outlets and won't be marketing in any shape or form. This is going to be a lean plant and any profits won't be lining shareholders' pockets. This is a facility that will be here for the benefit of the local farmers and meat producers.
"It will be local farmers having animals killed and cut to the highest welfare standards and then retailed locally through butchers, shops and farmers' markets we have here."