By Johann Tasker

FOOD giant Unigate appears to have a rosy future. The companys prospects are “A” in the long term and “F1” in the short term, financial experts announced today.

Unigate has consolidated its position as the UKs leading food processor and is flexible enough to expand even further, said analysts at the international rating agency, Fitch IBCA.

Growth in the market for desserts and spreadable fats helped boost Unigatess pre-tax profits during the first half of this year to £66.4 million – up 9.6% on the same period during 1996.

“As far as were concerned, this confirms what a strong position the company is in,” said a Unigate official.

But at least some of Unigates future profit is from reductions in the price the company pays farmers for milk. Many farmers have had their returns cut by 5ppl during 1997.

“We certainly hope that increased profitability within the dairy processing sector will mean farm prices for milk will firm at least a little during the coming year,” an NFU spokesman told FWi.