Building strong relationships with farmers and ensuring supply chain transparency will be a priority for Vion UK, the new owners of the Grampian Country Food Group.
Investment in new plant is also on the cards to improve processing efficiency and reduce the company’s carbon footprint, says chairman, Peter Barr.
“It will take a year to stabilise the company and it will be a difficult first year,” he said. “But we want to win the trust of farmers by adopting the Vion model from the Netherlands, which has been so successful in building a strong supply chain relationship between Vion and Dutch farmers.”
Vion is the largest beef processor in Europe and the acquisition of Grampian will quadruple the company’s beef, lamb, pig and chicken processing business in the UK.
Mr Barr strongly refuted any suggestion that Vion – which is ultimately owned by the farmers’ union in the Netherlands – would simply use UK plants as distribution centres for Dutch produce.
“Why would we buy so many processing plants if that was the plan? All we would need is three or four distribution depots to serve the whole country. Vion is committed to developing its UK processing businesses for the benefit of British farmers.”
Mr Barr said investment in new plant would be based on a long-term assessment of market demand rather than any knee-jerk reaction to current supermarket demand.
The acquisition of Grampian, along with Vion’s existing UK business, will give the company a turnover of £2bn in the UK with a staff of 30,000.