Dutch food giant Vion has no plans to sell Grampian's chicken business, said the company this week, after rumours had circulated suggesting Vion would look to focus on its core area of expertise in red meat.
Speaking after the completion of its much-anticipated acquisition of the UK-based Grampian Country Food Group this week for an estimated £400m, Vion head of marketing and communications Robert Smith said: "It was very clear that the agreement was to acquire all of Grampian, not just bits."
One of four divisions, Grampian's chicken operations produce 3m birds per week. The move will give Vion its first significant chicken processing facilities in Europe. "It adds another protein to our repertoire," Smith added.
The deal was signed last weekend and is subject to European competition authority approval, which is expected to take up to two months.
Vion, with sales of €7.14bn in 2007, already has UK operations in the fresh pork, bacon and sausage markets. Under the new structure Grampian will be integrated into a newly formed division, Vion UK, to be managed by a new UK CEO Ton Christiaanse, who currently heads Vion's convenience division.
"Vion has ambitious plans for investment, development and growth in the UK from which the Grampian business and its farmer suppliers will benefit," said Grampian MD Eddie Power.
The deal received a cautious welcome from NFU Scotland, which said it must "act as a springboard" to push the Scottish meat industry forward.
"As one of Europe's largest food companies, Vion can play a part in taking Scottish product to wider, more valuable markets and help ensure the critical mass of Scottish production is maintained," said NFUS president Jim McLaren.
Grampian employs 13,000 staff in the UK and a further 4,500 in Thailand. The company recorded pre-tax losses of £8.4m on sales of £1.8bn in the year to May 2006, and has still not released updated figures.