SCOTLAND‘S LARGEST farmer-owned business, the Aberdeenshire-based ANM Group, has reported a trading profit of £1.33m in 2004, down £199,000 on the previous year.

Throughput (sales on commission plus direct sales) increased by £546,000 to £159m, while turnover was up £5.7m to almost £78.6m.

At the group’s annual meeting on Apr 5, directors will recommend a dividend of 6.5% for the 7500 members.

More than half of the overall drop in trading profit was in the auction business. The figure fell £113,000 to £340,000, due to higher costs.

In the meat processing businesses, chief executive Brian Pack reported better news.

Scotch Premier Meat increased trading profit by £41,000 to £624,000 during the year, while Yorkshire Premier Meat, which struggled in 2003, achieved £471,000, up £106,000.

Overall, given the challenges the group faced in 2004, Mr Pack said the trading profit was satisfactory.

And the acquisition during the year of two new food companies – Highland Country Foods, in Forres, and Charcuterie Continental, near Glasgow – showed ANM’s determination to continue down the route of diversification and adding value, he added.