The plant, which was first announced in October 2017, is expected to cost around £20m, £4m of which has been awarded to Scotbeef through a grant from the Scottish Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation fund.
In its letter to councillors, NFU Scotland pointed out that cattle production and beef processing in the north-east had a clear downstream impact, supporting hundreds of allied businesses such as hauliers, animal feed producers, agricultural suppliers, construction and much more, creating much needed employment and economic activity in many north-east communities.
£20m purpose-built abattoir
It said it viewed the proposal from Scotbeef Inverurie to relocate its existing business and erect a new £20m purpose-built abattoir and meat production facility at Thainstone Business Park as “a huge opportunity for investment in the north east, which will bring jobs and a modern, state-of-the-art food processing site”.
Letter signatory Charlie Adam, a beef producer at Leochel-Cushnie, near Alford, said: “I firmly believe that the proposals to develop at this site are critical to the profitability and sustainability of cattle production, both in the north east and in Scotland more generally. NFUS support for this project has the backing of the whole livestock committee.
“In a very competitive food market, in which margins are tight, it’s essential that firms invest in infrastructure to meet the needs of the market and to continue to support the jobs and rural economy to which they are inextricably linked.
‘Much-needed processing capacity’
“The proposal will go some way to providing much-needed processing capacity in the north east, without which we could easily see cattle processing move out of Scotland.
“This investment in the food and drink sector is also in line with the Scottish Government’s food and drink target to double the food and drink industry turnover to £30bn by 2013. Scotland’s iconic red meat industry is at the heart of that ambition, but targets will only be achieved if we build processing capacity that meets modern-day requirements.”
If the proposals get the green light, construction is expected to begin immediately, with next April earmarked for completion. A decision by Aberdeenshire council is expected later this week.