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Poultry giant reaches milestone of producing six million birds a week


Growth: David Gibson

Growth: David Gibson

Growth: David Gibson

Northern Ireland poultry giant Moy Park has announced it's producing six million birds per week for the first time in its 75-year history.

The Craigavon-based company, which is one of the UK's largest poultry producers, has increased production by 20% since 2015 and now supplies 30% of the total UK poultry market.

Supermarket customers include Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

Moy Park has 12 processing facilities in Northern Ireland, England, France and Holland and works with over 800 farmer suppliers across the UK.

In Northern Ireland, it has over 6,000 staff in three sites at Craigavon, Dungannon and Ballymena, and a total of 12,650 across all its units.

Last year the company was sold to Pilgrim's Pride in the US - a subsidiary of its former owners, Brazilian meat giant JBS.

David Gibson, Moy Park director of agriculture, said the growth was down to the demand for Northern Ireland poultry.

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"Reaching six million birds per week is a huge achievement. This growth is testament to our commitment to agricultural and operational excellence and will ensure Moy Park is well equipped to meet demand for locally sourced, high quality poultry products," he said.

"A key driver of Moy Park's success is the continued dedication and support of our teams and farmers, and we thank them for their hard work in reaching this milestone."

The company recently invested in a new hatchery in Newark in England which hatches 2.5 million chicks per week, making it the largest single-build hatchery in the UK.

Last week, Pilgrim's Pride Corporation announced it had appointed Chris Kirke as president of the Moy Park business unit, succeeding Janet McCollum.

Mr Kirke has over 25 years of food industry experience, and most recently led the US division of Greencore Group plc.

Bill Lovette, president and chief executive of Pilgrim's Pride, said: "Janet was instrumental in establishing Moy Park as an unquestioned leader in the food industry in the UK. She has accomplished a lot and we are grateful for her more than 25 years of dedicated service to Moy Park."

Pilgrim's employs approximately 51,000 people and operates chicken processing plants and prepared-foods facilities in 14 states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the UK and continental Europe.

Moy Park started out in 1943 as a small farming business in Moygashel, Co Tyrone.

By 1960, Moygashel had taken on the management and subsequent ownership of the Ulster Farmers Co-operative, including a factory in Moira, Co Down.

The Moira factory soon became known as Moy Park Ltd and was incorporated as a subsidiary of Moygashel.

It first began supplying major UK supermarkets in 1963, and in the early 1970s, the entire share capital of Moy Park and Moygashel was sold to Courtaulds. And in 1980, the acquisition of Kew House Farm from Dalgety gave the company its first business in England.

In 1996, it became part of the global OSI Group, with more acquisitions following in England.

In 2008, it was acquired by Brazilian food giant Marfrig - and advertising banners placed during the 2014 World Cup firmly put Moy Park on the world map. Marfrig sold Moy Park to JBS in 2015.