Cranswick Country Foods is finalising plans to reopen its pork processing factory in Cullybackey, a spokesperson for the company has said.

“Cranswick is working with the Public Health Agency to agree a start date for the site which has yet to be confirmed. It may be early next week, but the company will start production sooner if they get approval to open,” the spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.

Production at the site was suspended on Saturday 22 August after a cluster of coronavirus cases were identified among staff. All workers were required to self-isolate for 10 or 14 days, depending on the result of an initial COVID-19 test.

The two-week closure of Cranswick’s facility has led to a backlog of finished pigs on local farms.

Some of these pigs have been redirected for slaughter at the two other pork processing sites in NI, namely Karro in Cookstown and William Grant & Co in Derry.

However, most pigs that were ready for slaughter at Cranswick have had to stay on farms in spare accommodation until the plant becomes operational again.

Poultry factory

Meanwhile, the 2 Sisters poultry processing plant at Couper Angus in Scotland reopened on Monday after being closed for two weeks due to a COVID-19 outbreak among staff.

In total, there were 199 confirmed cases of coronavirus linked to the factory, out of a total workforce of around 1,200.

The poultry processor has introduced a series of enhanced measures to keep staff safe but also reminded workers of their responsibilities when not on site.

“We believe it is also critically important for our people to understand their obligations away from the factory in the local community, which our initial analysis suggests has played a significant role in the transmission of the virus,” a 2 Sisters spokesperson said.