The Livestock Auctioneers' Association Limited (LAA)

Farmers can turn to livestock auctions following plant closure

17th April 2013

Farmers in Wales have been asked to make use of their local livestock markets following the closure of a major meat processing business on the Island of Anglesey.

Welsh Country Foods last week announced the closure of its facility on Anglesey with the loss of 310 jobs. The business had been the major processing facility for lamb in North Wales.

Chris Dodds, Executive Secretary of the LAA, said the impact of the closure would affect sheep producers throughout the region, but there were alternatives on the doorstep in the form of the local markets.

"When businesses operate on this scale, with major reliance on the larger retailers, then there are obvious vulnerabilities in the system when they close down. Livestock auctions, on the other hand, will always be there because they reflect the true value of the market, and offer competitive prices," he said.

"I would say to any farmer whose business has been affected by this closure to make use of and support your local market. It provides a flexible and transparent system in which to sell your stock, and also provides the opportunity for producers to contribute towards creating a fair and competitive price for their sheep," he said.

Simon Jones, Director of Morgan Evans & Co, which operates the Gaerwen Auction Centre on the island, said the loss of Welsh Country Foods had been a blow to the island in terms of job losses, and the wider effects on the economy.

"The closure of a major business like this is bound to have effects elsewhere in the livestock industry in North Wales. We would just say that farmers should consider making use of their local livestock auctions as a viable and competitive way of selling their stock. Our gates are always open," he said.

The plant was acquired by VION Food Group in 2008. The firm said the plant was closed following a decision by ASDA to move its fresh lamb business to an alternative supplier.

VION announced in November that it was selling its UK food operations, employing in total 13,000 people at 38 sites, to focus on its core food activities in the Netherlands and Germany and its global ingredients business.