The producer which saw turnover rise by 10% to £161.7m, from £147m, said loss had continued due to a “range of challenging circumstances”

Kettle Produce, one of the UK’s leading vegetable producers, has seen its losses accelerate amid a “range of challenging circumstances”.

The family-owned, Fife-based grower – which produces 100,000 tonnes of fresh root veg, green vegetables and salad crops each year – posted operating losses of £2.6m in the year to 27 May 2023, its latest accounts posted with Companies House have shown.

This represented a 22.7% jump in operating losses year on year, after Kettle lost £2.1m in the previous accounting period.

The producer did see turnover rise by an inflation-driven 10% to £161.7m. However, this growth was outpaced by a 10.1% increase in the cost of sales, which rose to £164.3m.

“In this financial year, Kettle Produce experienced mixed fortunes and dealt with a range of challenges but clearly demonstrated our resilience and business agility,” said financial director Liz Waugh.

Activity at the start of the year had impacted the entire financial period, she added.

“During the first quarter due to old-season crop surpluses, we made an atypical volume of sales to non-traditional markets at reduced margins and as the key winter trading approached, substantial rainfall followed by frost caused significant supply chain disruption from the UK and Europe, which harmed the business,” said Waugh.

“Although normal trading patterns resumed during the latter six months of the year, we were unable to offset earlier losses.”

Waugh said a strategic review and business restructure designed to reduce operating costs had brought in a range of project streams to boost profitability.

“The impact of these changes is already having a positive effect,” said Waugh.

There are ongoing challenges around inflationary pressures, market volatility, the energy crisis and the availability of labour remaining for the business but “we are confident the steps we have taken will ensure a return to profitable trading”, said Waugh.

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