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Morrisons says Scottish potato depot closure will not affect farmer suppliers

Morrisons is closing its potato grading and storage facility in Carnoustie.
Morrisons is closing its potato grading and storage facility in Carnoustie.

Supermarket giant Morrisons says plans to close its potato grading and storage depot in Carnoustie will not affect its Scottish growers and its commitment to buying Scottish potatoes.

The company, which sources potatoes from 40 growers in Scotland, announced the closure of the grading and storage depot at Clayholes Farm near Carnoustie, on Tuesday.

It said the announcement, which will result in up to 12 redundancies, was made with “deep regret”.

The retailer said “continuing efficiency gains” in its supply chain had resulted in the Clayholes facility only grading 6% of the potatoes it handles, and its role could be absorbed by other parts of the Morrisons supply chain.

A Morrisons spokeswoman said: “The closure does not mean that Morrisons will be buying any fewer Scottish potatoes, nor is its commitment to Scottish potato growers in any way reduced.”

She said the retailer would be in touch with its Scottish potato farmer suppliers in the coming days to inform them of the changes.

Morrisons’ potato grading facility Clayholes Farm on Balmachie Road near Carnoustie.

The spokeswoman added: “We will now be asking growers to complete their own passports and encouraging due diligence when assessing stock suitability.”

When asked if the changes will result in costs for farmers, she said there would be no change for growers.

NFU Scotland‘s communications director, Bob Carruth, said the union was gathering feedback on the implications of the announcement on its members.

He said: “It is apparent that some who have previously supplied the plant were not aware of the planned closure.

“There is welcome commitment to Scottish potatoes in the Morrisons statement but we are awaiting further information on where supplies previously sent to Clayholes will need to be delivered to in the future, and whether that has cost implications for growers.”

The Clayholes facility has undergone a number of changes in the past few years and the site employed 90 members of staff five years ago when it was owned by Farmcare.

Redundancies followed the loss of a major contract, before Morrisons acquired the site in January 2017.

The retailer then made more than 30 job losses two years ago when it changed the role of the factory to become a grading and storage facility, with packing operations moved to sites in Gadbrook in Cheshire and Rushden in Northamptonshire.

It is understood Morrisons will now move all potato operations to the Gadbrook and Rushden sites.

Earlier this month Morrisons agreed to a £6.3 billion takeover bid from a consortium of investment groups.

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