Tony O'Neill, business development director at Moy Park, talks about the importance of the poultry industry
Tell us about your business
Craigavon-based Moy Park is Northern Ireland's largest food processing company and the leading provider of fresh, locally farmed and produced chicken in the UK. The company is recognised as one of the largest producers of organic, free range and corn-fed poultry in Europe.
Moy Park has been part of the Marfrig Group since 2008 and employs over 10,800 people across its 13 main production sites in Northern Ireland, England, France and The Netherlands. The company expanded its base in Northern Ireland, taking over the O'Kane poultry business in 2010, which enabled the company to enter the turkey sector for the first time.
What is your unique selling point?
As a leading food company we believe our success is based on maintaining close relationships and working in partnership with our farmers, as well as continued investment in the business.
Moy Park takes pride in recognising the talent and excellence in Northern Ireland's food sector and is committed to supporting its farming base, which totals some 600 poultry farms in Northern Ireland alone.
In 2011, Moy Park farmer Seamus Kane was awarded the coveted UK-wide M&S 'Champion of Champions' award for sustainable and innovative farming practices.
Who are your customers?
Moy Park processes over 200 million chickens and two million turkeys per year in its primary processing factories in Northern Ireland and England.
We supply leading retailers and food service providers throughout the UK with a range of high quality, fresh, breaded and added value poultry products.
Moy Park also supplies all hatching eggs to a significant proportion of the total European market and has supplied all organic chicken for the Duchy Originals from Waitrose product range since June 2011.
What have been the biggest challenges for your business over the last year?
Throughout 2011, the poultry sector experienced a combination of sustained price hikes and inflation costs.
Against this backdrop Moy Park has continued to grow and develop the business.
We continue to invest in the core business to ensure we meet the needs of our customers and consumers. The team at Moy Park believes agri-food is playing a major part in rebuilding the local economy, with the poultry sector a crucial part of this - employing thousands of people.
Where do you see the opportunities for your business in the year ahead?
We are constantly looking at ways to grow our business. We are big supporters of the retail sector locally and have plans to extend our Moy Park branded range in Ireland.
We have recently launched new Moy Park branded products and will continue to look at consumer demands and identify trends in order to extend our product range further.
Our focus remains on continuous improvement and on delivering high quality, great value products to our customers.
In the poultry category, branded fresh chicken products have a lot of potential for growth.
We have also added turkey to our product range and we see big opportunities for further new product development in the turkey category.
We have also made considerable investment into a high profile television campaign, which is currently airing, to support sales of our products through retailers.
How do you view the health of the Northern Ireland economy?
The operating environment for businesses in Northern Ireland is tougher than ever.
However, the agri-food sector continues to grow in these extreme circumstances.
The agri-food sector currently creates around 20% of private sector employment and generates an output worth almost £4bn.
It is our belief that the Northern Ireland food and drink industry has the capacity to increase output by 40% to £5.6bn by 2020 and in the process generate up to 15,000 new jobs.
With the formation of the Agri-food Strategy Board, Government and industry will work together to realise this potential over the short, medium and long term.
Should the Executive do more to help local business?
Indigenous businesses can certainly do with any help they can get in the current climate.
While I believe some positive steps are being taken, the Executive must develop and drive a "business friendly" attitude into the local departments who are generally considered more difficult to work with than any of our neighbours.
A clear, consistent and efficient approach to planning applications would also be beneficial for companies making major investment decisions.
Why is corporate social responsibility (CSR) important to your business?
Moy Park remains committed to investing and improving all aspects of corporate and social responsibility.
We have implemented policies and made commitments, ranging from sustainable sourcing and waste reduction, to efficient water usage, ethics and diversity.
Our extensive corporate responsibility programme includes participation in charitable activities to raise much needed funds for our charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support.
Moy Park is also involved in education initiatives and works in partnership with Young Enterprise, the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) and local schools.
These initiatives are designed to inspire creativity and entrepreneurship and are aimed at developing business skills among students, something which we view as extremely important.
Moy Park, sponsor of the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award in the 2012 Belfast Telegraph Northern Ireland Business Awards in association with bmi