Northern Ireland home to largest pig factory in the British Isles

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A Northern Ireland town is home to the largest pig processing plant in the UK and Ireland, with 1.2 million pigs processed at Cookstown’s Karro factory each year.

The operation sees 3,296 pigs slaughtered on site every day to feed not just domestic markets, but those throughout Europe, Asia, the US and Africa.

Operating to high standards, the company holds British Retail Consortium, Bord Bia and BQAP accreditation as well as a United States Department of Agriculture licence.

In addition to slaughter facilities, the site is also equipped for boning, bacon curing and slicing, sausage manufacture and pre-packed fresh pork production. From Cookstown, the company’s customer base includes supermarkets Tesco, Asda, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury and Dunnes as well as smaller groups within Northern Ireland.

It also sells products under the Cookstown brand label to customers across the island of Ireland.

The Cookstown factory, which was first established in 1937, was taken over by Karro Food Group in 2013 and now employs around 880 people.

It is understood that all of the meat going through the factory has been sourced from farmers in Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Famously advertised by legendary footballer George Best, the ‘sizzling sausages’ campaign first put Cookstown on the world map in the 70s.

As well as its Cookstown site, Karro Food Group, operates farming, slaughter and processing operations from eight sites across the UK and Ireland.

Combined, these sites are said to process around 45,000 pigs a week for supermarket and wholesale markets according to IrishTractor.ie.

But Cookstown is the main slaughter site and a £10m capital investment programme last year by the company saw £8m spent on the town’s facility, including a £6.5m investment in new chilling and processing technology.

Karro Food Group’s headquarters are in Malton, North Yorkshire.