Source: Fresca Group

The group saw annual sales growth of 7.9%, equivalent of £25.2m in its latest results for the fiscal year 2022-2023

Fresh produce supplier Fresca Group has announced strong growth in its latest results.

The group said saw operating profits rise by 57% to £3.9m in the 12 months to 28 April 2023, its acccounts showed, while EBITDA grew by 33% to £12.9m, driven by “standout contributions” from its wholesale division and joint-venture businesses Thanet Earth and Cartama Europe.

Wholesale operations benefited from a pivot in its activities “to take full advantage of the resurgence of the cruise line industry, winning new business within this sector”, the supplier’s annual report said. Thanet Earth “expertly navigated” the challenges of fresh produce shortages at the start of 2023 by providing full support to its retail partners, ”confirming its premier position as a leading UK salad grower”, Fresca added. 

Meanwhile, Cartama, the joint venture business it held with its Colombian avocado growing partners, “achieved significant new business wins across the year, as the popularity of avocados continues to grow across the continent”.

Turnover rose by 7.9% (or £25.2m) to £341.4m, despite what CEO Martyn Fletcher described as “another testing year for both society and the economy”.

Fletcher added the group had made significant investments over the past year “in automation, to reduce our reliance on labour and the associated costs, and also in energy-efficiency projects to lessen the impact of rising charges”.

“These investments have substantially contributed to delivering a profit performance and were a key factor in our overall result,” he explained.

Fresca has a number of significant investments lined up with the aim of reinforcing product quality and service, while increasing capacity, driving efficiencies and developing the business.

“Behind every great business are great people,” added Fletcher. “The continuous improvement mindset of all our colleagues, and the culture of doing business the right way is at the heart of everything we do. The board would like to thank all of our colleagues for their tremendous efforts over the last 12 months.”

The group announced one of its investments earlier this week with its increased stake in joint venture ownership of salad grower Thanet Earth.

It acquired the shares held by JV partners Rainbow Growers Group UK for an undisclosed sum.

“Post-Brexit, there has been increased demand for more UK-grown fresh produce to ensure food security in our own country,” said Fletcher on the acquisition. “Given environmental pressures and the need for us all to continue to reduce our carbon footprint, our strategy is to continue to invest in the sustainable growing of protected crops.”

The business will now trade as Thanet Earth Peppers and will continue to be led by Pleun van Malkenhorst as MD.