8 December 2000

Farmers First wins CBI award

FARMERS FIRST, the company pioneered by five Welsh farmers to stimulate competition in the UK livestock market by boosting exports of lamb to the continent, has won a prestigious CBI Award.

The companys chief executive, David Owen received the coveted International Initiative of the Year category of the CBIs Growing Business Awards 2000 at Londons Hilton Hotel on Tues night.

The Awards are designed to find and recognise the companies behind the success of the UK economy, said Digby Jones, director general of the CBI. The international category acknowledges excellence in the skills of researching overseas markets and successfully launching, or expanding, operations abroad.

From humble beginnings in 1998 when the company, launched as Farmers Ferry, raised £1m with the backing of 6000 farmers, it now moves 10% of all the lamb produced in the UK and has abattoirs processing and exporting 11,000 carcasses a week into Europe.

Its Farmers Fresh abattoir business was created in May of this year and that was followed by a flotation in July to create the parent company Farmers First.

Mr Owen and the Farmers First team were delighted with the award. "At last agriculture, so long the underdog as far as the UK economy is concerned, is getting main stream recognition," said an elated Mr Owen.

His views were echoed by Gareth Vaughan, vice-president of the Farmers Union of Wales, who added: "The award is highly justified. Farmers First has provided a lifeline for many Welsh and UK sheep producers."

&#8226 For more on the company see Business p26.

David Owen (left) with Colin Beesley of award sponsors the Royal Mail