The future of the 51-strong workforce of a north aquafeed plant is under threat after its Scandinavian owners announced plans to pull out of the UK.
Norway-based Skretting, one of the global leaders in the industry, yesterday blamed the decision on an unnamed competitor who is “driving down prices, leading to an unsustainable commercial environment”.
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Skretting announced yesterday it had “started the process of consulting with employees with the view to cease production in the UK at the end of April 2019”.
Within their statement, the company cited a new large feed plant, set to open in early 2019, as one of the driving factors in forcing the decision.
Therese Log Bergjord, CEO of Skretting, said: “Unfortunately, we are experiencing unsustainable market conditions in the UK. With a new large feed plant becoming operational in Scotland early 2019, the total feed capacity in the region is expected to exceed the total market by more than 50%. This is driving down prices, leading to an unsustainable commercial environment.
“We have therefore made the decision to start consulting with our employees on a proposal to cease feed production in the UK.”
A new £93milllion fish feed plant, constructed for Marine Harvest, is set to open early next year at Allt Anavig in Kyleakin.
Last night, Marine Harvest managing director Ben Hadfield said: “We do note the overcapacity that exists in the Scottish fish feed market. Our strategy, beginning in 2012 in Norway, and 2014 in Scotland, was to build a facility that is in the heart of our west coast locations, to have the best possible logistics moving feed by sea, and to secure the best possible nutrition for the fish under our care.”
Skretting has said the move is aimed at reducing “overcapacity” in the highly competitive salmon feed market and is seeking to better utilise the company’s existing production facilities in Europe.
Councillor Maxine Smith said: “On top of the 20 redundancies announced by Whyte & MacKay recently, this is a devastating blow to the local workforce.”
Councillor Carolyn Wilson said: “I think this has come out of the blue and I am sure a number of the staff will be very shocked, especially many who have worked there for a long time.
“This is definitely a blow for staff, especially at this time of year. It is a difficult environment to find a job in and they have been put in a difficult position.”