Plans have been submitted for a new £75m pork processing plant in Ballymoney, County Antrim.
The company behind the proposal is Bannside Foods – a new name in the pork industry.
The proposed site is the former home of the Lovell and Christmas bacon factory, which burned down in 1998.
The proposed factory will process cull sows – there is no dedicated facility for that process in Northern Ireland.
Currently farmers have to export them to Britain, the Republic of Ireland or into Europe.
Johann Muldoon, the project’s architect, said it was an ambitious plan, which could create hundreds of jobs.
“It will future proof an industry that has been hard hit in the last number of years plus any new jobs should be welcomed,” she said.
“One of the key concerns with Brexit was the access to migrant labour – this plant will see changes to the nature of that and will link in to apprenticeships and training in the tech side of business, but there will be the other side of things that are less tech savvy.
“There’ll be 350 to 400 direct jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs – it’s certainly a big project.”
Glenn Cuddy, the chair of the Ulster Farmer’s Union Pork and Bacon Committee, said having a local processor will make things easier for him.
“It’ll mean more competition in the market for pigs,” said Mr Cuddy, who keeps 300 sows at his farm in County Tyrone.
“There’s always problems moving sows – our sows usually have to go across the water into the mainland, or else to the Republic, and with borders and all there’s always problems, so it’s welcome news that there might be a plant that could do cull sows in the future.”
A 12-week public consultation on the plans is ongoing.
By Elaine Mitchell / BBCRead full article Share on twitter