17 August 2001

Receiver called in at Esk

HUNDREDS of Scottish growers face uncertainty about their market after Esk Frozen Foods, Scotlands largest frozen fruit and vegetable processor, went into receivership.

The 17-year-old company, based in Montrose, Angus, has been in difficulties for more than a year. It has been squeezed out of the market by competitive imports from mainland Europe and the move by supermarkets to cut supplier numbers.

Receiver Blair Nimmo of KPMG said finding a buyer for the £10m-turnover business would not be easy. "But we do see an opportunity to find an interested party who may well be able to combine this business with an existing one in a way which will be viable."

The plant, which processes about 50,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables and employs 140 workers, will continue to trade while Mr Nimmo seeks a buyer.

NFU Scotland vice-president John Kinnaird said the news would cause a great deal of uncertainty for farmers.

The loss of processing capacity in Scotland would leave growers having to try to sell their produce to English markets, but the transport costs would leave Scottish growers at a competitive disadvantage if that happened. &#42