Unigate arm Malton Foods has announced the closure of its Ahoghill butchery and curing plant in early June. The previously announced closure of its bacon slicing and packing facility at Enniskillen has come forward to March 10. Some 300 jobs are at stake, but some of the skilled posts can be transferred to Malton's killing site at Cookstown, said a Malton spokesman. The 750t/week Ahoghill operation was set up in the wake of the fire at the refitted Balleymoney factory in June 1998. A contraction in the British pig herd, which also led to a further increase in Malton's producer price to 86.5p/kg dw this week, has also been behind the closure. "We need to realign capacities with the declining UK pig herd to reflect the lower volumes," said Malton Foods md Max Hilliard. But there is no mistaking his exposed position upstream of a repositioned Unigate commitment to convenience foods. Add to that the constant retreats by big corporate groups from slaughtering ­ and one outcome keeps on coming to mind. {{PROVISIONS }}