Farmers have raised concerns about further consolidation in the processing sector after one of the UK’s largest rendering and by-product companies was bought by meat processor ABP for an undisclosed sum.
John Pointon and Sons was established more than 40 years ago and operates from a single-site employing 200 people at Cheddleton, Staffordshire.
It can process up to 400,000 tonnes of animal by-products a year into pet foods, tallow, oils and fuel.
ABP has 25 beef processing sites across the UK and its own pet foods division.
Commenting on the purchase, its chief executive officer Frank Stephenson said: “We are pleased to welcome management and staff from John Pointon and Sons to ABP Food Group. It will be very much business as usual and we look forward to further developing and growing the business.”
Martin Pointon, boss of Pointon and Sons, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to further develop what is already one of the market leading animal by-products facilities in the UK.”
The takeover has caused concern among farmers who rely on smaller abattoirs.
“The problem is that small abattoirs are paying much more to dispose of waste and getting nothing for hides and skins,” said Richard Young, head of policy at the Sustainable Food Trust.
“This has already forced some smaller units to close. Our main concern is that ABP treats small abattoirs fairly and does not use its new control of the rendering industry to drive even more out of business, because having a local abattoir is essential for all farmers selling meat locally.”
According to the Foodchain and Biomass Renewables Association (FABRA), which represents UK renderers, there are 17 major rendering plants in the UK owned by nine companies.
Between them they process two million tonnes of by-products a year.
FABRA highlighted the positive environmental impact of rendering.
A spokesperson said: “Products derived from rendering are sustainable and carbon neutral, consuming less energy and resources than their primary alternatives.
"This gives them a lower carbon footprint and reduces the overall environmental impact of the meat industry.”