By Peter Crichton

MALTON FOODS, once Britains biggest pork processor, has been put up for sale after months of speculation about its future.

Uniq, the former Unigate company, has called in the Dutch banking group Rabobank to see if it can find a buyer for the Yorkshire-based business.

Slaughterers margins have come under increasing pressure in recent months, with live pig numbers falling, rising imports and higher deadweight prices.

Malton is at best only expected to break even this year. The pig diseases PDNS and PMWS could reduce throughput by another 10% in the months ahead.

Pig-industry analysts have pointed to a steady decline in the influences of Malton in the UK pig market over the past three years.

Three years ago, they were handling close to 25% of the UK kill.

But the company lost the confidence of producers and volume shrunk after its decided that contracts would no longer be linked to the All-Average Pig Price.

The price tag for the business is quoted at 50 million. Approaches are said to have already been made to venture capital and finance houses by Rabobank.

This could point to a management buyout.

However, trade interest could come from the new Roach/Dalehead Foods set-as well as Dutch and Danish bacon processors, quoted as possible buyers.

  • Peter Crichton is a Suffolk-based pig farmer offering independent valuation and consultancy services to the UK pig industry

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