Fane Valley and ABP extend joint venture to Linden Foods

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Fane Valley Co-op and ABP Food Group have announced plans to extend their joint venture relationship to include Linden Foods, the UK based meat processing business of Fane Valley.

The partnership will see ABP Food Group take a 50% stake in the Linden Foods company. An agreement in principle has been reached by both parties subject to approval by the relevant regulatory and competition authorities.

Linden Foods, award winning fresh meat processor, has facilities in Dungannon, Burradon (England) and Kettyle Irish Foods (Fermanagh). The announcement follows last year’s Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats joint venture between both parties.

Confirming the plans, Trevor Lockhart, Chief Executive of Fane Valley Co-op said: “Linden Foods is a growing company within the UK red meat sector, delivering the highest levels of innovation, quality, service and value to its long established customer base. The business continually challenges the way it works, seeking out new ways to advance and improve. Our experience of working closely with ABP Food Group in the Republic of Ireland has been extremely positive and we now wish to build on this success.

The Joint Venture, which will continue to trade as Linden Foods under the current management team, will ensure that the business can capitalise on new commercial growth opportunities within both the domestic and international market place. The involvement of ABP will strengthen our global sales network and assist in ensuring Linden maximises the returns from all parts of the animal, including the 5th quarter. This will be a pre-requisite to delivering sustainable returns to primary producers in a post-Brexit era.”

Commenting on the announcement, Frank Stephenson, Chief Executive of ABP Food Group said: “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with Fane Valley Co-Op and look forward to building on our successful partnership with Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats.”

The Ulster Farmers’ Union deputy president Victor Chestnutt said that the joint venture between Fane Valley and ABP is interesting news, but has warned that both companies must ensure that competition is not hindered.

“Both companies are firmly established in Northern Ireland and ABP taking a 50 per cent stake in Linden Foods will cause some farmers alarm and raise questions about competition,” said Mr Chestnutt.

He added that it will be important that the company continues to value it’s suppliers in Northern Ireland and they must ensure they continue to offer competitive prices for livestock.

“It is early days but ultimately we will judge the success of this new venture on the future producer returns for cattle and sheep. Despite the buoyant prices at the minute, profitability on beef and sheep farms remains low,” said Mr Chestnutt.