Moy Park is already in the “advanced stages” of its IPO preparations and on course to float on the Stock Market before the end of the year, The Grocer understands.

The Northern Irish poultry giant has long been tipped for a London IPO, and its Brazilian parent, Marfrig, said in its interim results on 13 August that Moy Park “could be well positioned for an IPO if we decide to pursue that path.”

Moy Park declined to comment, but The Grocer understands such plans are now well under way, with the company having worked on its IPO for months. City sources expect Moy to come to market at some point in the fourth quarter.

While a number of retailers havefloated this year - such as Poundland, B&M Bargains and McColl’s - Moy Park would represent the most significant food supplier listing since Ranks Hovis McDougall and Premier Foods a decade ago.

Market sources expect plenty of interest for the poultry specialist. “Global demand for protein is on the up and this will give investors an opportunity to access that demand,” said one. “Investors typically look for a nice yield play or for a growth play - Moy Park offers both elements.”

Moy Park issued £200m on the European bond market in June, which is seen as a good indicator of investor appetite. However, the £1bn price tag thought to have been attached to the company could test the limits of that sentiment.

A £1bn valuation would represent a 12.5x multiple on EBITDA - a level widely seen as at the higher end of the possible price range.

One source said investors would be keen to price in an element of sector risk, given recent concerns over avian flu and campylobacter. However, he added the stock market was a “natural home” if Marfrig wanted to sell.