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Orkney abattoir to close

ORKNEY'S HATSTON abattoir is to cease production, the board of Orkney Meat Limited has announced.

Blaming "continued difficult trading conditions" in the meat sector, the board insisted that it had explored all options available to the company, but had concluded that it would be in the interests of shareholders, employees and customers to wind down the company's operations.

All posts at the abattoir are likely to be made redundant. At the present time it is not known when production will cease – but it is not anticipated that it will continue beyond this month.

The board stressed that the company was neither in administration nor subject to any form of insolvency proceedings.

A shareholders meeting is due to take place on Tuesday March 27, where shareholders will be informed of the detailed proposals and timetable for closure.

NFU Scotland's president Nigel Miller said the closure was "a big blow for Orkney farmers and all those involved in Orkney Meat."

"Orkney Meat were doing everything that Scottish farmers and food and drink producers are being encouraged to do – they had developed a brand and were taking a high quality product and selling it to the premium end of the market.

"NFUS extends its sympathy to the employees of Orkney Meat who will be losing their jobs and to all those involved in trying to make the company work. NFUS would make itself available for any intitative that would help to build the Orkney meat brand.

"Today's news highlights in the clearest possible terms the threat to all peripheral and island meat producers and abattoirs, and is a wake up call to us all about the need to support our local high quality brands."

Quality Meat Scotland chairman Jim McLaren said that it was "very concerning" that a business which had worked hard to add value locally and built itself an enviable reputation for quality, should still find it impossible to continue trading.

"The position Orkney Meat has found itself in further highlights the extreme difficulties being faced by processors up and down the country. These were brought sharply into focus this week with the announcement by ANM Group of a meat trading loss of almost £4million for 2011.

"This week's announcements further underline the need to maintain critical mass in our Scottish livestock industry," added Mr McLaren. "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 of the loss of key parts of our processing sector."

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