Farmer-owned meat processor Farmers First has acquired the abattoir and business interests of Fairfield Meats of Wrexham in North Wales for an undisclosed sum.
The co-operative was founded in 1988 to run the Farmers Fresh abattoir at Kenilworth in Warwickshire; create demand for British lamb and gain access to European markets. The new addition will trade as Farmers Fresh Wales from early January 2018. Like Farmers Fresh, it will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Farmers First.
The expanded group will now have a slaughter capacity of over 30,000 lambs per week, supplying lamb and mutton to both export and domestic customers.
Speaking at the recent Welsh Winter Fair, Farmers First chairman Terry Bayliss said: “We have long held an aspiration to process stock in Wales, and today’s announcement brings this to fruition.”
Farmers First has over 2,700 farmer shareholders across the UK, including 1,100 who farm in Wales. Since it began, it has exported over 12 million lambs and sheep to continental Europe, whilst supplying customers in London and across the Midlands.
“We pursue viable markets for UK lamb, particularly in continental Europe,” explains Mr Bayliss. “By generating additional demand in the marketplace, we create more competition among buyers of UK finished lambs, supporting farm gate prices against greater erosion by our global rivals.”
The acquisition of Fairfield Meats will give Farmers First more capacity to meet demand from European customers. Mr Bayliss says: “While the Brexit uncertainty over future trading arrangements will continue, we as a business will strengthen our ties with our closest and most valued customers, right across the EU.”