ANM Group is to close its Highland Country Foods site and transfer all lamb slaughtering to Inverurie in a bid to make the company "smarter and fitter".

The Scottish farmers' co-operative, which owns Scotch Premier, has blamed the move on declining livestock supplies and a highly competitive marketplace.

The changes, which will take effect from March, will include a £400,000 investment in the Inverurie site to support the additional lamb slaughter volumes it will absorb. The move will affect 29 staff currently employed at Dornoch and 18 who work at the Highland Country Foods site at Forres. ANM hopes to transfer as many as possible to its other plants.

The past year had been tough, said CEO Alan Craig. "The only way a meat and livestock business such as ours can prosper in today's business and trading environment is by being smarter and fitter than our competitors," he added.