Northern Ireland poultry meat processor Farm Fed Chickens is set to make scores of redundancies at its Coleraine factory after Sainsbury cut back its fresh chicken contract with the company.
The retailer will still source whole chickens and chicken pieces for its nine Northern Ireland stores from Farm Fed.
But it has switched its contract for UK volumes to a mainland supplier. Its UK suppliers are Grampian Country Food Group, Faccenda Group and Lloyd Maunder.
The move will lead to an estimated 70 job losses at Farm Fed, it is understood.
A Sainsbury spokeswoman said: “We have a local sourcing policy and Farm Fed is a local
supplier to our stores in Northern Ireland.”
Farm Fed refused to discuss the development this week. Managing director Garth Henry said: “Due to changes in our customer’s demands and increased competition in the marketplace, Farm Fed Chickens has had to consider redundancies at this time. The company will make every effort to limit the negative impact this will have on its workforce.” The move by Sainsbury is another blow to the Northern Irish meat industry following the retailer’s decision last year to cut Dungannon out of its beef supply chain.
Dungannon announced plans to close its Elmgrove Foods facility in Belfast with the loss of 30 jobs as a result of losing the contract, which was worth £80-£90m a year.
Sainsbury defended itself against accusations that its actions were detrimental to the province.
“Sainsbury buys almost £200m of products from Northern Ireland producers every year in accordance with our local sourcing policy, including meat, bread, dairy and fresh fruit and vegetables,” said its spokeswoman.
Richard Clarke, Ronan Hegarty