TWO North-East abattoirs have exported animals to the Continent for the first time in 40 years, thanks to a takeover by Irish-based company Linden Foods.
The group yesterday, sent 750 sheep across to France from its two abattoirs, the Whitley Bay Meat Company in Whitley Bay and Coast and County in Felling, Gateshead.
The abattoirs were owned by Thomson Foods before the recent takeover.
Manager of the Coast and County abattoir, Colin Mckenna said the move would help to keep jobs secure.
He said: “We were able to do this business because of the takeover by Linden Foods. They have the connections and knowledge to enable us to do this deal.
“Exporting should help to keep jobs secure, although it is not the be all and end all.
“The company was run well before but the added expertise that Linden Foods have provided us with will help.
“The plan is to export regularly now we have the contacts to do so.”
There are still very strict rules governing meat exports following foot-and-mouth.
Demand from the Continent is lower than usual but the hope is that it will begin to pick up during the winter months.