A slaughtering plant in Westmeath has been named as the largest beneficiary in the country of government investment in the meat processing sector.
Funding of €11,243 has been granted to Kilbeggan Abattoir Services Ltd under the Department of Agriculture’s Beef and Sheepmeat Investment Fund.
The company plans to invest the money towards a greenfield slaughtering plant, due to cost almost €25 million.
In total, 15 capital investment projects in the sector have been awarded grant assistance of €69 million, which is expected to create 800 additional jobs in the industry and increase net sales and exports by €400 million.
Among the other recipients were the Kepak plants in Ballymahon, Co Longford and Athleague, Co Roscommon, which were awarded €4,544 and €3,995 respectively.
The awards represent the largest capital investment in upgrading Ireland’s meat processing capacity in 20 years.
The details of the allocations under the Beef and Sheepmeat Investment Fund were revealed by Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith earlier this week.
Speaking at the announcement, Mr Cowen said the provision of €69 million in grant assistance would “ensure the long-term competitiveness of the industry in Ireland”.
“There is a compelling need to lower production costs and improve efficiency by upgrading facilities in order to make the Irish industry a strong and vibrant player on the world market,” he added.
The beef and sheepmeat industries have an annual turnover of some €3 billion, exports of €2 billion, and account for over 20 per cent of Irish food/drink exports.
The industry employs some 10,000 directly, processing the output of 100,000 beef and sheep farmers.