Jess in talks with pork giant Tulip on Brechin growth

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Major moves are afoot in the Scottish pig industry, with family meat processing firm AP Jess of Paisley deep in discussions with the Tulip company over a massive expansion in the number of pigs going through its Brechin abattoir.

Speaking in Paris this week, Alan Jess said his company would be holding talks today with Tulip, part of the Danish-based Crown Group and the biggest pork producers in Europe as well as the biggest exporters of pork around the world.

Currently the Brechin abattoir has a throughput of 2,000 pigs per week, in an existing joint deal between AP Jess and Tulip and the plans are to expand this initially to 4,000 per week and ultimately up to or more than 6,000 pigs per week.

Jess stressed the discussions were still ongoing but if they came to fruition the increased throughput would be the equivalent of the non Vion produced pigs that had gone through the Vion plant at Broxburn before it closed its doors earlier this month.

This, alongside a number of smaller abattoirs in Scotland currently increasing their pig kill, would remove a major worry for Scottish pig producers who thought the closure of the Vion plant would sound the death knell for their industry.

The expansion at Brechin would involve increasing the workforce from its current level of around 40 employees.

It is understood that the carcases would be shipped to one of the 17 plants owned by the Tulip Group in Britain for packing.

Even if this part of the process was carried on in England, the pork could still be allowed to be labelled Scotch Pork

The Brechin plant, which was bought by the Jess family in the mid 1990s, was used mainly in the disposal of over-30-month-old cattle following the BSE scare but when that business was concluded, the plant was mothballed up until the Jess/Tulip deal last summer.

No-one at Tulip was available for comment yesterday.