Cargill plans £35M investment in UK poultry site

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Cargill hopes the site will strengthen supply of meat from UK-reared poultry
Cargill hopes the site will strengthen supply of meat from UK-reared poultry

Related tags Meat

Cargill is investing £35M to upgrade its poultry processing hub in Hereford and offer retailers and foodservice customers a massive boost to supplies of UK-sourced chickens.

The firm said the cash would be spent on improving efficiencies, upgrading technologies and installing the latest equipment at its existing Hereford factory, which employs 2,000 workers.

The aim of the project would be to strengthen sales and relationships with top retail and foodservice customers, which included Morrisons and Nandos, Chris Hall, business director for Cargill’s European chicken business, told

Currently 80% of the factory’s production serves retail customers and 20% supplies foodservice businesses.

Cargill has two main poultry sites, one at Hereford and a smaller one at Newent, Gloucestershire. Together, they process 1.7M birds a week. “When we finish our investment, we will have the capacity to process 2M birds,”​ said Hall.

“In the next year the focus will be to improve and upgrade our chiller capability,”​ he added. “We expect the chiller expansion will be complete by the end of autumn 2014. Once we are done with that we can carry on with further upgrading of the plant.”

Expanding capacity

Another focus would be investing in expanding the capacity of its hatcheries, he said.

He stressed it was Cargill's intention to continue to support operations at the smaller Newent site as well as at Hereford and there were no plans to consolidate the two.

Clearly the investment would lead to job creation, but Hall said it was too early to say how many roles this would entail.

The growth of the Hereford site is also expected to boost business for farmers and growers, who supply feed for the chickens.

Pilar Cruz, md of Cargill Meats Europe, said in a statement: “This is an exciting time for the poultry industry and as demand for fresh chicken grown in the UK continues to rise amongst retailers and consumers, we aim to position ourselves to better support this. This investment will position Cargill for future growth and strengthen our relationship with key strategic customers in the UK.”

Cargill has already introduced controlled atmosphere stunning and upgraded the bird reception facilities in Hereford. It now aims to expand its chilling capabilities and hatchery.

Sustainable chicken supply chain

It said it would work with local UK chicken farmers to look at how to continue to build a sustainable and long-term chicken supply chain while increasing the number of home grown chickens available to the UK market.

“Cargill’s investment plans will not only help us support our customers, but also local farmers and the industry as a whole,” ​said Cruz.

“We are committed to working together with our farmers, customers, suppliers and communities to help the UK poultry industry to thrive and to leverage our broad global knowledge, ethics and values to build a strong sustainable growth business in the UK.”

Efficient and competitive

Cargill said it expected the project would create one of the most efficient and competitive poultry processing plants in Europe.

Herefordshire has been the base for its poultry business in Europe for more than 50 years. It is a leading supplier and innovator of primary and further processed chicken products to retail, foodservice and food manufacturing customers and their consumers.

The company employs 3,000 people at 19 locations in the UK and 14 different businesses offering food, agriculture, industrial and financial products and services.

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