AVARA Foods has announced a major investment in its chicken processing plant in Hereford.

It says the £6.5 million spend at its complex in Grandstand Road and Yazor Road should be seen as a long-term commitment to the city.

Some of the money is paying for new technology that is increasing production capacity by 100,000 chickens a week (the site currently processes up to two million birds a week).

The remainder is going on other measures to increase efficiency and productivity, including the creation of new job opportunities.

Avara Foods in Hereford is one of the country's most advanced food manufacturing sites, and the firm says the new investment is helping it retain that place "long into the future".

The firm, which employs 2,075 people in Hereford, says its introduction of new technology is creating work that needs greater skills, and which offers higher wages.

In recognition of this it is providing a range of training and development opportunities, including apprenticeships that run from Level 2 to degree.

Starting pay at the site is currently £9.28 a hour.

Richard Walden, Avara’s site manager at Hereford, said: “Our investment programme is great news for the city.”

“Improving our operating infrastructure, increasing productivity and raising pay will improve efficiency, retain our valued colleagues and help make sure we are a sustainable business for the long term.

“We offer a great range of employee opportunities, ongoing development and training, and we’re excited to welcome new colleagues to our team.”

Chris Hall, chief commercial officer, said: “Our Hereford operations have been key to the company’s wider success, and will be for the foreseeable future.

“The site undertakes a significant amount of specialist processing and directly supplies some of our biggest customers.

“This investment is all about making sure this site is fit for the future and cements our place as the city’s largest employer. We’re looking forward to celebrating more successes in Hereford over the coming years.”

Avara Foods is on the UK's largest food businesses. It was established in 2018 as a joint venture between two companies: Cargill and Faccenda.

Its Hereford operation is remembered by many local people by its former name, Sun Valley Poultry.

Last year there had been some concern about Avara's commitment to local farm contracts.

But the firm pledged at the time that there would be no cancelled contracts as a result of its long-term plans.