pigs feeding

Meat processor Tulip has expanded its UK production base with the acquisition of pig farm operator Easey Holdings.

Danish Crown-owned Tulip completed the acquisition on 8 September for an undisclosed fee. The deal is subject to regulatory approval from the Competition & Markets Authority.

Suffolk-based Easey Holdings was established in 2007 and employs about 40 staff. It owns some 150 pig farms across two separate breeding and growing divisions, and also operates a veterinary practice and a livestock transport business.

Easey posted revenues of £67.1m for the year to 29 February 2016, down from £79.1m during the previous year, as a result of feed price fluctuations and low pig prices, according to its latest accounts. Pre-tax profits fell from £2.7m to just under £825,000.

The deal represented a major investment in British farming and an “inward commitment to the UK” by Danish Crown, said Tulip. The acquisition would not affect Easey’s existing supplier contracts and commitments, said a spokesman for Tulip, while the company would continue to operate independently with the existing management team remaining in place and all existing employees retained.

“Customer demand is rising for pigmeat produced to high welfare standards supported by strong provenance credentials,” said Tulip agriculture director Andrew Saunders.

“This acquisition forms part of Tulip’s strategic objective to further support the UK pig farming industry, allowing us to more effectively utilise our skills and expertise, capitalising on our industry-leading best practices, which have been developed by farmers, vets and other experts within the organisation.”

Tulip plunged to a £21.8m operating loss for the year to 30 September 2016, in the face of lower demand and raw material price pressures.

However, the business had now “successfully completed its profit turnaround” said Danish Crown CEO Jais Valeur and was focusing on cementing the “significant progress” made during the past year and planning for the future.

“This acquisition is in that context and is part of a range of measures designed to Brexit-proof the business,” Valeur added.

“The announcement reflects the significant progress being made with Tulip’s new strategic direction, demonstrating the company’s core values - passion for food and passion for farming.”