2 Sisters Food boss steps down following meat production scandal

Ranjit Singh Boparan, the founder of the embattled 2 Sisters Food Group, has stepped down as chief executive of the country’s largest supplier of supermarket chicken after 25 years.

The move comes after a challenging year for the company, which included the firm suspending production at its West Bromwich plant for five weeks following a Guardian and ITV undercover investigation that raised questions over the firm’s food standards.

The company said that Boparan would become president of 2 Sisters’ holding company, Boparan Holdings, and that it would begin the search for a new head of the food group.

Boparan said: “I am fully committed to building a better, more transparent business, modernising our company and simplifying our operations. I want to take a broader industry leadership role and concentrate more on the issues and challenges that affect not only our business, but also the food sector in general such as Brexit, social responsibility and sustainability.”

There was no mention of last year’s food standards scandal that saw Boparan hauled in front of a parliamentary select committee, in a direct response to Guardian and ITV undercover filming showing an instance of workers altering slaughter dates on crates of chicken and reintroducing to the production line poultry that had been dropped on the floor.

The Commons’ environment, food and rural affairs committee concluded that the problems identified at the West Bromwich site were “not a one-off” and said they were “concerned at the apparent laxity of the oversight” at the plant considering the history of the food processor.

The 2 Sisters Food Group said there was an innocent explanation for changing the date labels.

Following the hearing in October, the sector has seen a series of similar scandals including the collapse of meat producer Russell Hume, which slumped into administration earlier this month after meat was prevented from leaving the group’s factories following problems with “mislabelling” at its Birmingham premises.

The company’s demise followed the pork firm Fairfax Meadow voluntarily recalling meat products earlier this month after issues with use-by date labelling. Products from DB Foods were also recalled in February after the Food Standards Agency found that “use-by dates on some products that were not compliant with legal requirements”.

Earlier this month 2 Sisters revealed that 900 jobs were under threat at three of its poultry plants, although it has pledged to create an additional 1,000 roles elsewhere in its business.

Following Boparan’s move to president, the chief operating officer at 2 Sisters, Martyn Fletcher, will run the business in the interim.