Shercock chicken plant facing challenges

Senior executives met with staff last week

A rampant rate of Covid-19 transmission in the community, and increased costs in running the business, were among the primary concerns quoted when the difficult challenges facing the Manor Farm chicken processing plant in Shercock were raised with staff and management.

The stark message was delivered by senior executives of Swedish firm, Scandi Standard, owners of Carton Bros, when they visited the east Cavan site last week. The company is one of the region’s largest employers, with around 800 staff, not including multiples more who are making a living elsewhere in the supply chain.

The top executives from Scandi Standard are understood to have spoken with groups of workers in relation to maintaining the plant in Shercock. The visit comes in the wake of a situation where a workforce shortage forced the disposal of approximately 80 tonnes of chicken carcass as it could not be processed. In relation to the challenges facing the plant, a spokesperson for Manor Farm informed The Anglo-Celt this week: “As a policy, the business will not comment or guide on matters that are operational in nature. They will also not comment on rumour and speculation.” Like many industrial sectors, aside from those quarantining due to Covid, Carton Bros can find itself short-staffed with dozens more seasonal staff set to return to third-level education in the coming weeks.

The change could see through-put at the plant drop, with an estimated 100,000 fewer birds per week being processed than at its height earlier this year.

It caps off a difficult Summer for the local business. It faced upheaval after suppliers of poultry to Manor Farm voted ‘no confidence’ in the business’ CEO Ado Carton back in June.

The vote was taken after more than 60,000 chickens were destroyed after tests identified the birds may have been reared using unauthorised antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs).

The business works with over 180 farm suppliers across the region, and the testing resulted in the cold storage of tens of thousands more chickens until it was completed.

Manor Farm is the largest poultry processor in Ireland and processes around 900,000 chickens a week at its Shercock plant.

The call for Ado Carton to resign his position was taken at an online meeting of IFA members attached to Sicín Co-Op, who questioned the testing. Mr Carton is cousin to Vincent and Justin Carton.

Scandi Standard purchased Manor Farm from brothers Vincent and Justin Carton in a deal worth €70 million back in 2017. In February, in a notice to the Stockholm stock exchange, it was announced that Themvar Eight Unlimited Company- owned by members of the Carton family and current and former senior executives at Manor Farm - divested six million shares in the firm at €6 per share, netting them €36M.