SCOTLAND, UK - A chicken hatchery in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, will close next week, with the loss of about 20 jobs.
The site is owned by Oxfordshire company P.D. Hook Group, whose managing director, James Hook, told the Press and Journal last night there was no alternative.
“We told the staff three weeks ago there was a risk of it closing and this has now become the reality,” he said.
Asked when the site would close, he added: “Imminently…next week.”
The hatchery is one of a number of Scottish production sites supplying the chicken operations of the two Sisters Food Group, reports PressandJournal.
But a string of farm closures, including sites in Peterhead, Turriff and Banff, have led to plunging orders for day-old chicks.
Mr Hook said: “We are disappointed not to be able to continue to run the Inverurie hatchery, but the farm closures meant we had no other option but to close it.”
Rising feed prices and haulage costs were also a factor in the decision, he added.
Farmers’ union NFU Scotland (NFUS) said it was “extremely disappointed” by the closure and other recent moves to cut chicken production in Scotland.
Lower throughput at two Sisters processing sites at Coupar Angus in Perthshire and Letham, near Forfar, has led to management deciding to scale back both operations.
NFUS said the businesses had operated under a shadow since a restructuring announced by two Sisters late last year.
A spokeswoman for the union added: “This bad news comes despite the best efforts of growers to collaborate and co-operate.
“Unfortunately, that commitment was not matched by investment in processing facilities.”
A sister company of two Sisters – two Agriculture – sold its chicken hatching and breeding division, including hatcheries at Inverurie, and at Duns in the Borders as well as an egg-laying farm at Harlaw, near Inverurie, to P.D. Hook earlier this year.
They were acquired by two Agriculture last year after two Sisters bought the Vion Food Group’s chicken and beef and lamb operations.
Last December, Birmingham-based two Sisters – whose branded products include Fox’s biscuits and Goodfella’s pizzas – announced a restructuring of its Scottish business.
The group axed 230 jobs and dramatically cut weekly throughput at the Coupar Angus processing site, putting the future of several independent north and north-east chicken farming operations in doubt.ThePoultrySite News Desk