By RYAN McALEER
ONE of Northern Ireland’s biggest pig producers is behind plans to develop a £75 million automated pork processing plant in Ballymoney.
The project is centred on the site of the former Malton Bacon factory in Agivey, which was destroyed by fire in June 1998, according to the Irish News.
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council was notified of the plans last week after a proposal of application notice was submitted by Omagh-based accountant Seamus McCaffrey in the name of Bannside Foods.
The company, which was incorporated on Wednesday, is controlled by County Armagh brothers Jim and Mark Wright of JMW Farms, along with Andrew Irwin.
All three are directors of Dartan Hall Holdings, a holding company for six firms principally controlled by the Wright brothers.
The latest set of accounts filed by the group show it recorded a turnover of £64 million in the year ending September 30, 2019, producing an operating profit of £3.5 million.
According to JMW Farm’s website, the family-owned operation finishes around 7,000 pigs per week. It operates pig breeding farms on
both sides of the border and in
JMW already controls most aspects of the pig production line, including its own growing operation, feed mill, road transport mill and power plant.
Now the company is seeking to develop a massive pork production facility on the former Malton Foods site in County Antrim, which was once part of the Unigate group.
The site was recently put on the market for £325,000.
Jim Wright previously recalled that JMW had been supplying all its finished pigs to the Ballymoney plant up until it was destroyed in a blaze in 1998.
“This left us with a massive challenge in finding an alternative customer for our finished pigs that were ready for slaughter,” he said.
“We had to work through what were extremely tough trading conditions for a period of two years until the market adjusted to the loss of a major processor.”
The documents lodged with Causeway Coast and Glens Council describe the proposed facility as a first of its kind food processing plant.
It states the project will involve around £75m of private investment and create between 350 and 400 jobs.
The proposal states thousands more jobs will be supported indirectly by the massive factory.
n An eight-week public consultation on the plans is due to begin on May 17.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.