The Grampian Country Food Group has enjoyed a meteoric rise since its establishment in Banff in the north east of Scotland in 1980. Following multiple acquisitions, restructures and a move into the added value sector, the company now employs more than 21,000 people and is one of the UK's leading food processors, supplying all the major multiples and food companies with beef, lamb, pork, chicken and turkey products.

The group is still in second place behind ­Scottish & Newcastle UK in the Top 50 rankings, but remains Scotland's largest food and drink firm excluding alcohol, with operations throughout the UK, Thailand and the Netherlands. The company says that its core purpose is "to provide consumers with high-quality, exciting foods that they can trust", and it aims to "keep building on integrity of production and the traceability of products so as to ensure that consumers receive products of the highest quality".

A look at this year's Top 50 table reveals that sales grew a further 8% to £1,851m between 2004 and 2005. The group is highly integrated and comprises five business units, each with their own management teams who all work to contribute to a "from plough to plate" philosophy.

The business is driven by a commitment to natural breeding and rearing processes, investment in people and technology, and a flexible and adaptable approach to supply.

This year the company has been focusing much of its energies on building the availability of organic and free-range poultry to supply some of the major multiples in Scotland, while developing sales initiatives in smaller independent stores, foodservice and van sales.

The company has recently opened a speciality hatchery focused on slow-growing breeds that it

requires for both organic and free-range rearing. It has plans for further growth as retailers develop initiatives to drive more regional food into their stores for consumers who are keen to buy local and avoid food miles.n