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Pork processor awarded £2.6m Scottish Government grant

Scotland's largest pork processing plant will almost double its capacity, thanks to a grant from the Scottish Government.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced that AP Jess in Brechin has been awarded £2.66 million towards a major upgrade and extension.

The expansion could create up to 20 full-time jobs at the site, as well as supporting another 42 posts there.

Mr Lochhead said the investment would go "a long way in rebuilding capacity" in the industry, which suffered a "severe blow" when the Halls of Broxburn plant shut down more than a year ago.

Farms across Scotland produce about £81 million of pig meat a year for processing, Mr Lochhead said.

The Rural Affairs Secretary added the investment showed a "new chapter beckons for our pig industry", stating: "I am confident this investment will in time increase the size of the Scottish pig herd and the volume of Scottish Selected Pork going into the market place."

AP Jess managing director Allan Jess said: "I am delighted that the Scottish Government have decided to support this investment, one of the largest ever in the Scottish pork industry.

"This project will make the plant one of the most modern in Europe and will strengthen the availability of the Scottish Specially Selected Pork brand. We would like to thank the Cabinet Secretary and everyone at the Scottish Government for this grant and their support."

Mr Lochhead announced the cash award, from the Scottish Government's food processing, marketing and co-operation grant scheme, as he addressed the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) AGM in St Andrews.

He also told the meeting he was launching a drive to improve food labels to provide consumers with clear information about the products

"I want to make sure the shopper on the high street knows with certainty that what says Scottish is actually Scottish, there is no 'small print' hiding away the true origin of the food they purchase," Mr Lochhead said

"I am absolutely determined to tackle the scourge of misleading information. It's not complicated, it's incredibly simple - consumers must know what they are eating and where it comes from."

He said the Scottish Government and the Food Standards Agency would lead a partnership with the industry and consumers in a bid to improve food labelling.

The Rural Affairs Secretary stressed this issue would also be a "priority" for the new Scottish food standards body, which is due to be established next year.

In his address to the farming union, he also highlighted the "spectacular produce" that comes from Scotland, as he revealed he had written to the organisers of the country's 108 agricultural shows, urging them to ensure as much Scottish food and drink as possible is on sale.

He said: "With a surge in the number of food tents at events, showcasing our food and drink is now a major part at many of our famous agricultural shows.

"However, it would be fantastic to see as much as possible of the food and drink sold at our shows being locally produced, and be able to tell people of its journey from farm to fork and grain to glass. That's why I have written to all of our shows, asking them to do this where possible and participate in our food revolution."

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Food and drink

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