One of region's last abattoirs to close

By Jonathan BarnesPIG farmers could be hit with rising transport costs after it emerged one of the region's remaining abattoirs is closing.About 60 jobs will be lost or relocated when slaughtering ceases at EE Pilgrim and Son in Banham, near Diss.

By Jonathan Barnes

PIG farmers could be hit with rising transport costs after it emerged one of the region's remaining abattoirs is closing.

About 60 jobs will be lost or relocated when slaughtering ceases at EE Pilgrim and Son in Banham, near Diss.

The abattoir, which dates back to the 1950s, takes pigs from across the region and producers will now face higher costs transporting their pigs further afield.


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But it is hoped the Banham site will still be used as a collection centre to take the animals to Cheale Meats in Brentwood, which owns Pilgrim and Son.

There are now only believed to be a handful of abattoirs left across the region, including sites in Haverhill, Beccles and Watton.

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Helen Lovelace, general manager at Pilgrim and Son, said: “It is proposed that slaughtering will cease here and we are currently in the middle of a 30-day consultation with staff.

“It is also proposed that a collection centre is set up and we will process stock in the same way as we always have done.”

Paul Cheale, a director of Cheale Meats, said the restructuring in the business was part of a “rationalisation” process.

“We have decided that, with some reorganisation, we can accommodate their throughput to make the whole situation more economic,” he said.

Mr Cheale added negotiations were being held with staff, including over possible relocation to Brentwood, where there will be vacancies.

“Pilgrims is extremely well-known and is a very good part of our business, but this has come about through force of circumstances. There is not enough stock available,” he said.

James Black, a pig farmer from Bacton, near Stowmarket, said he would be “sorry” to see the Banham abattoir go.

“We take our culled sows there and there are not many places that take culled sows in the region - Cheales will be the alternative,” he said.

“Any closure of an abattoir is bound to have an effect on pig farmers as the animals have to go further for slaughter and that is regrettable. It increases our transport costs.

“I suspect in the abattoir sector it will increase transport costs, but with declining numbers of animals in the system it is the only way they can continue to run profitable abattoirs.

“There are still a few abattoirs in the region, but a lot of the smaller ones have gone, mostly through the costs of meeting inspections and food standards requirements.”

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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