Vion, which announced in November 2012 that it was selling up in the UK and retrenching its business back on home territory in Germany and the Netherlands, has now sold its remaining UK operations, the red meat and poultry divisions, to the 2 Sisters Group.
The move brings 2 Sisters, a major player in the UK’s poultry sector, into the red meat area for the first time and secures the jobs of 6,000 people across 11 sites around the UK.
The deal, for an undisclosed sum, has been welcomed by the industry. Philip Clarke, chief executive of Tesco, said: “Only last week I talked about bringing our food closer to home. 2 Sisters acquiring Vion’s UK sites helps keep meat production in the UK at a critical time and safeguards thousands of jobs, which is great for retailers and the UK economy.”
Steve Murrells, chief executive of food retail at The Co-operative, said: “This is excellent news from 2 Sisters, which will help safeguard British meat production, as well as the thousands of jobs associated with it. At a time when consumers are demanding provenance and quality from their food more than ever, for retailers like The Co-op, it’s very important to have manufacturers who can work with us and deliver what consumers expect.”
National Farmers’ Union president Peter Kendall said the move would help to safeguard a key supply chain for UK producers and maintain the UK’s processing capacity to meet the growing demand for British sourced food.
Kendall added: “Since the sale announcement by Vion in November, there has obviously been a degree of uncertainty for farmer suppliers, so this acquisition will come as good news and will help offer some reassurance to farmers across England and Wales.
“The purchase will safeguard a key supply chain for high-quality British beef, lamb and poultry, and the NFU will be arranging a meeting with 2 Sisters to help build a profitable future for British livestock farmers.
“This development will help to maintain and improve the UK’s processing capacity and it is critical, following Tesco’s announcement to source 100% UK fresh chicken by July 2013, that the industry is able to respond to the growing demand for British-sourced food. This move will help deliver shorter supply chains and increased traceability, and we hope it will be another step to developing a more sustainable, fairer and transparent supply chain for farmers across England and Wales.”