Scotland's largest private company, Grampian Country Food Group, is reportedly up for sale for £350-400m.
Although a spokesman described talk of a sale as "speculation", industry sources said Grampian had been sounding out the market for months. The business comprises beef processor St Merryn, a pig-killing division and the poultry business.
The company has been under severe financial strain due to raw material price rises, strong competition and the residual effects of a string of farming crises.
Grampian's net debt in the year to 31 May 2006 rose by £27m to £390m, with EBITDA of £58.2m on sales of £1.8bn.