17 November 1998
Unigate hit by pork glut and butter slump

INTERIM results from Unigate were hit by a combination of the pork glut overhanging markets and a slump in demand for butter substitute spreads.

The company said the pig supply problem came about because of a rise in production in anticipation of consumers turning away from beef.

The collapse of markets in Russia and Asia also contributed to overcapacity.

Unigate reported pre-tax profits unchanged at £67.5 million for the six months to 30 September.

The company maintained its position because of higher interest income from its cash pile of £166m and the release of an unused acquisition provision.

Profits from the dairy business were up 6.7% to £20.8m, helped by lower raw material prices.

Operating profits were down 6% at £59.5m overall. Turnover fell to £1.12bn from £1.18bn.

Sir Ross Buckland, chief executive, said he could not explain the decline in demand for spreads.

But he said the problem, which hit Unigates Utterly Butterly, Gold and Vitalite brands, was common to all yellow fat suppliers, including real butter.