The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has said it is “deeply concerned” that Moy Park will be reducing production of live birds in Northern Ireland.

As revealed by the Irish Farmers Journal last week, for the second time in less than three years, the company has decided to suspend the processing of live birds at the Ballymena site, with Moy Park citing “customer growth and labour challenges” as the reasons behind the move.

UFU deputy president William Irvine said that members are extremely disappointed and worried about Moy Park pulling back on production here.

“It is the second time this has happened in less than three years and will create ongoing income pressures.

“Poultry producers have been hit hard in recent times and they’ve been exhausting every avenue to sustain their family farm businesses,” he said.

Minimal impact

“Moy Park has said that they aim to get the slaughtering of live birds in the Ballymena site going again in September when a major contract with Sainsbury’s will begin, but, in the meantime, we will be liaising closely with Moy Park to ensure this is managed with minimal impact.

“It’s important that consumers understand that the increasing input costs to produce food is going to affect the cost of food for them.

“Neither farmers or processors can produce food, meeting extra production costs, without receiving a fair return from the marketplace. Therefore, it’s going to have a rippling affect down the food chain.”

The Ballymena site processes around 300,000 birds per week.