UK - A Savage attack the credibility of Vion Foods (UK) by Guardian newspaper

07 May 2012

The Guardian ran an article on Tues with the headline;

“Farming co-operative takes on abattoir over future of meat industry”

This was not the usual “boots and all” expose, rather the complaints of a farmers group with 300 members who supply livestock to the Dutch meat giant in the UK.


click here for the article - Farming co-operative takes on abattoir over future of meat industry...  -Traducir esta página
2 days ago – Carl Gray, who raises beef cattle on around 340 hectares (830 acres) of rolling countryside near Tewkesbury, was surprised to get the letter.

If any of the allegations are true or even true in part, its time for Vion to take a long hard look at itself and change their attitude and perhaps their company policy, if they want to last the distance in the United Kingdom.



Vion are not the first foreign meat company to open in Great Brittain with great fanfare, only to leave with their tail between their legs. We had Swifts, Borthwicks, Towers, Armours, Dalgety, Wilson Meats and Associated Meats to name but a few in the last 50 years.



There are two important groups who control the meat industry,  they are the farmers who produce our raw materials and the housewife who buys the finished article.



If the farmer is happy he will produce the raw material we need and if the shopper is happy she will buy all the meat we can produce.



We ran the Guardian story and changed the headline to“Vion in big trouble for treating farmers badly” this seemed appropriate and was far better than the headline I was going to use which was “Vion getting too big for their boots”



I have been buying cattle, sheep and pigs from farmers for over 50 years, there are two things I have never seen one is a satisfied farmer and the other is a dead donkey.



While farmers are not always well educated, this does not mean they are stupid, in fact they are a pretty shrewd bunch world wide, with a natural fox cunning.



I received a letter yesterday afternoon from the Group Communications Controller of Vion, who did not seem concerned about the content of the article, only the headline we had used.



This left me speechless, as it was the content of the allegations made by the farming group in the Guardian, that are the shocking indictment on Vion Foods, if any of the allegations are true then they were quite correctly taken to task.


Robert Smith
Robert   Smith  Head Of Marketing &
Communications at VION Food UK



The fact that  the Group Communications Controller of Vion, did not deny any allegations or even try to put a case in defence of Vion, means he is really out of touch with our grass roots suppliers or just incompetent at his job.



No journal or website has done more to defend the meat industry against unfair media stories that Meat Trade News Daily,  in fact there are three stories today doing that very thing under USA news.



If Vion are not prepared to defend the allegations of the farm group or the Guardian, we are not going to fabricate news on their behalf.



We were not the only site to pick up the story and it was published on at least three other meat sites that we are aware of ie;




  • Farmers' cooperative challenges Vion - MeatInfo  - Traducir esta página
    1 day ago – An organic farmers' livestock marketing group has suspended trading with UK food manufacturing giantVion, fearing that the meat processor's ...
  • Farmers' cooperative challenges Vion « Hog Roast Cheshire  - Traducir esta página 1 day ago – An organic farmers' livestock marketing group has suspended trading with UK food manufacturing giantVion, fearing that the meat processor's ...



    It appears Vion only give statements or press releases, to publications that wine them and dine them in 5 star London hotels, then offer them awards of praise on meaningless pieces of paper. What a wonderful way to get the "poor suckers" adverting dollars, just boosting their already over inflated ego's.Smith even endorses them on his web profile.


  • The FW Awards Night
    From  Vion website plenty of "5 star hotels" and high life, yet no mention of the Guardian story or apology to the farmers concerned!.  
    7.00pm  – Champagne reception
    8.00pm – 3-course dinner with wine
    9.45pm – Entertainment and Awards ceremony
    11.00pm – Close of Awards ceremony
    11.15pm – Post-Awards entertainment includes dancing to a live band
    1.30am – Bar closes and carriages depart


    Robert Smith (Endorsing Wiiliam Reed Publications)


  • Can a man serve 2 Masters !

    Robert Smith
    Robert Smith Head Of Marketing &
    Communications at VION Food UK



    We have run the enclosed news stories on Vion for the last three years with nothing but praise for their operations and never received a thankyou. Sitting in an Ivory tower in London, is a far cry from feeding cattle twice a day, treating staff on the work abattoir floor with a little dignity and respect, avoids all industrial disputes ie;


  • UK - Morrisons buy Vion meat plant - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    5 Feb 2012 –  VION  Food UK has today announced the proposal to sell its meat processing operation at Winsford.
  • UK - Open day at Vion pork abattoir - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    24 Nov 2011 – Pig producers can improve returns by aiming for at least 85% of finished pigs to meet the top grade specifications on their abattoir contract.
  • Netherlands - Vion invest in USA - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    28 Jan 2012 – It has been announced that on 30 December, Vion Food Group acquired Eastman Gel from Eastman Kodak Company.
  • 160 new jobs at Vion Foods pork factory - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    15 Apr 2012 – A MULTI-MILLION pound investment by a Co Tyrone company had led to the creation of more than 160 jobs.
  • Wales - New beef line for Vion - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    25 Mar 2012 – Anglesey farmers have been told that a new beef line could be opened at the Vion plant on the island. Members of NFU Cymru Anglesey ...
  • UK - Ten 24 Hour Strikes Set To Hit Vion - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    4 Apr 2012 – Unite members at Vion, Cambuslang will renew their fight for an improved pay deal when they take strike action this Thursday 5th April.
  • Japan - Vion Foods joint venture - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    17 Mar 2012 – Meat and food procesing giant VION has signed a sales and distribution Joint Venture with the Japanese Company Jellice for its Rousselot ...
  • UK - Young people and the meat industry - Meat Trade News Daily  - Traducir esta página
    21 Jan 2012 –  Meat Trade News Daily   ...  As part of VION's focus on nurturing talent, applications were open to both internal and external graduates, and the ..



    A couple of weeks ago the very same Group Communications Controller of Vion, asked us to run a story boasting that they had settled an industrial dispute, the question that begs to be asked is why was there an industrial dispute in the first place.



    The co-operative group of around 300 organic farmers;    are so angry over the treatment by Vion, they have gone online with a petition to change the Vion heavy handed policy..
    I would strongly suggest that the Group Communications Controller of Vion, gets himself a pair of Wellington boots and visits his farmer suppliers as well as spending a day on the kill floor of one of his abattoirs,or consider a career change.


  • The email from Mr Smith, with no Dear Sir or Dear William, just a grubby little note. My reply in available on request at  but far too obscene to publish even on this site.

    William Hayes

    From: Rob Smith []
    Sent: 03 May 2012 15:50
    To: William Hayes
    Subject: Lazy headlines

    In re-printing a story that appeared on the Guardian website, you chose to use a more provocative headline "Vion in big trouble for treating farmers badly".
    I am disappointed that you had bothered to contact me directly, before using such an inaccurate, misleading intro.

    Kind regards

    Robert Smith
    Group Communications Controller
    VION Food Group Ltd

    14 Waterloo Place
    London SW1Y 4AR

    Tel: + 44 (0) 207 389 0500 (London)
    Tel: 0044 (0)1506 400400 (Livingston)
    Mobile 0044 (0) 7785 502976













  • William Hayes Buenos Aires 4 may 2012







  • Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.

    Dawn Meats Group

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