Grampian has ramped up its red meat operation with the purchase of St Merryn Food Group, one of the UK’s leading processors and a major supplier to Tesco.

The move, which ends months of speculation, puts Grampian at the top of the red meat market, doubling its lamb production and more than
trebling beef output.

Grant Mackie, MD of Grampian’s beef business unit, said: “St Merryn is a very successful business with well invested assets, a skilled workforce and a good farming supply base.”

St Merryn produces a wide range of beef and lamb products, including a growing range of burgers, as well as turkey and barbeque products, and ground beef.

The company has two plants, one in Cornwall and another in South Wales. It employs 2,000 people and has an annual turnover of around £280m. The purchase will not only add scale to Grampian’s red meat business, but also opens up opportunities to expand its added value operations.

“This acquisition helps to accelerate the group’s convenience foods agenda,” said Mackie.

Bart Stacey, MD of St Merryn, said the deal would provide a secure market for the future.

“I would like to reassure our producers that this change of ownership will have no impact upon ongoing relationships.”

The news received a mixed greeting across the industry.

Robin Tapper, head of food and farming at the NFU, said: “Further concentration in the processing industry means our members have less choice. However, we have been having a good dialogue with Grampian and hope that will continue.”

Peter Scott, director with the British Meat Processors Association, said the move demonstrated how the meat industry was rationalising.
Ed Bedington