A total of £1.3 million will be reinvested in the beef and lamb and pork sectors after the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) sold its carcase classification arm.
Meat and Livestock Commercial Services Limited (MLCSL) has been acquired by Hallmark Veterinary Compliance Services (purchased through parent company Vorenta Ltd) to help safeguard the future of classification services across Great Britain.
The deal was approved by Farming Minister George Eustice and completed on Friday (November 30).
The move was first announced in March and, since then, there has been significant consultation with industry, with an oversight committee now to be established to ensure independence and value for money in the services at abattoirs across the country.
NFU livestock board chairman Richard Findlay said:
“The NFU is pleased that we have secured an independent industry scrutiny committee to provide strategic oversight of classification services.
"It is important that we maintain trust and transparency in the service. Livestock producers will welcome the introduction of a quality standard that will ensure all classifiers are trained, audited and remain independent from the processing business.”
Jane King, AHDB Chief Executive, said: “We believe this move will safeguard the long-term future of independent, manual, carcase classification services in Great Britain.
“A lot of hard work has gone into this sale from a lot of people and we are pleased we have finally crossed the finishing line.
“Credit should go to all involved, particularly those who work for MLCSL, and we wish HallMark all the best as they take MLCSL into a new chapter.”
In total, 103 staff will be affected by the move but no job losses are expected. There will be no disruption in services for customers with “business as usual” being maintained as part of the deal.
David Peace, Chairman of Hallmark, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the acquisition of MLCSL, which we believe fits very well with our current operations, to the mutual benefit of both businesses’ future development.
“MLCSL’s key strengths are its very highly experienced and loyal staff and managers, and we’re very excited about this opportunity to work together, building on MLCSL’s well-acknowledged skills, its powerful brand and expanding its services and reach.”
By moving the business into the private sector with a company that has a strong track record of delivering independent services to the meat industry, it will open up opportunities for greater efficiencies and synergies that would not be possible under the current public ownership model and secure the future of the business.
A year-long process was undertaken to identify suitable companies that met robust criteria set down by the AHDB Board, including value for money, track record of delivering independent services and commitment to the long term future of the business.