The Welsh sheep industry has been dealt a disastrous blow by the closure of one of the largest abattoirs in Anglesey, the trade body for Welsh red meat, HCC, has said.

The closure of the Welsh Country Foods lamb-processing factory, announced today by Dutch owner Vion foods group after a 90-day consultation, will result in the loss of 350 jobs.

The plant, which processed 640,000 lambs a year, has been forced to close after Vion failed to find a buyer for the site. It accounted for the processing of 16% of all Welsh lambs and was the only remaining major abattoir in North Wales.

Vion announced in November that it was selling its UK operations. In March, 2 Sisters Food Group bought Vion’s UK red meat and poultry operations.

The decision to close the plant was taken after Vion’s key customer Asda moved its fresh lamb business to another supplier.

HCC (Hybu Cig Cymru), which is funded through levies collected at abattoirs, could lose up to £500,000 a year and fears this loss of revenue will impact its ability to promote the Welsh lamb brand.

“Vion’s failure to secure a purchaser for Welsh Country Foods is a knockout punch for large-scale meat processing in Wales,” said HCC chairman Dai Davies.

“The closure of Welsh Country Foods will have a far-reaching effect not only on the employees who will be made redundant but also on local suppliers and the wider Welsh meat industry.

“The loss of any facility, whichever its size, is to be regretted. But for Wales to lose one of the largest processing plants in Britain, with particular strategic importance to the industry in North Wales, is disastrous.”