Moy Park has played down fears that its takeover by Brazilian giant Marfrig this week will result in an influx of South American meat to the British market.
Following the completion of the £345m deal, Moy Park Group spokesman Gareth Spencer Jones said: "We have 500 farmers across Britain and Northern Ireland. We wouldn't walk away from that. What we are producing at the moment stands firm."
Jones was responding to the NFU's demand for assurances that Marfrig was not a 'Trojan horse' that would use the deal as a backdoor to import more South American meat to Europe. Moy Park is one of the UK's largest chicken producers, handling 3.5 million birds a week, and turns over £700m.
The acquisition propels Marfrig from being the fourth-largest poultry producer in Brazil to ninth-largest worldwide.
Marfrig will also acquire UK-based Kitchen Range Foods and Dutch company Albert Van Zoonen, which are both part of the Moy Park Group, in addition to parent company OSI Group's Brazilian operations Baslo Produtos de Carnes, Penasul Alimentos and Agrofrango Indústria e Comércio de Alimentos.
The takeover is the second major deal in the UK poultry industry in a week following Vion's takeover of Grampian Country Food Group, with many analysts predicting further consolidation in the sector.
"The signs of consolidation we are seeing are not surprising," said Anthony McGurk, partner at law firm Eversheds. "They will continue over coming months as producers continually get squeezed on margins by retailers and suppliers/producers end up looking to consolidate for reasons of survival and in the hope that size will count."
Commenting on the Moy Park takeover, managing director Nigel Dunlop said: "We believe Marfrig will fully support us in achieving our ambitions across our operations in Northern Ireland, England, France and the Netherlands. This can only have positive benefits for our customers and all involved."