The £32m Dawn Meats Group factory, newly built on a 20-acre site at Cross Hands in Carmarthenshire, is one of three set to open over the coming months to service all 259 of Asda’s UK stores.
Opening the site, Asda director Angela Spindler admitted the multiple was taking a risk by ditching instore butchery, but added: “We are very confident we are doing the right thing.
“This move is right for our customers because it will offer them quality, availability and choice,” she claimed. “Dawn
Meats Group has also done the right thing by investing all this money. It makes sense.”
Asda’s fresh meat general manager Brian Haigh said he expected the plant to pack meat with a retail value of £4m per week. “Central packing offers us so many advantages in terms of meeting legislative requirements as well as those for hygiene and shelf life,” he said. “It’s brilliant for our customers.”
For Dawn Meats Group, the risk of investing so much in a single contract - understood to be a rolling deal in five-year chunks - is sweetened by the new business the company believes will now come its way.
Bosses predict that its partnership with Asda will result in sales of its packed meat products to the multiple more than doubling next year.
The factory is not yet up to full capacity, but when it is it will retail pack 500 tonnes of beef and pork every week.
Two more factories on the site, not dedicated to Asda, will double that when they come on stream later this year.
Over the next three months, similar plants will be opened by Grampian Country Food Group in Cheshire, and ABP in South Yorkshire.