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European Business News – Week ending November 26, 2010

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European Business News – Week ending November 26, 2010

November 26
01:06 2010

Food business entrepreneur Bernard Matthews passed away, aged 80, on November 25th. From humble beginnings sixty years ago, he developed his family business, Bernard Matthews Farms, into a successful £330m turnover vertically integrated turkey production company. In doing so, he was largely responsible for popularising turkey as an affordable meat for consumers, not only at Christmas time but throughout the year.

Today, Bernard Matthews is one of the top 30 largest UK grocery brands with a consumer base of more than 13 million British households.

The extent to which he transformed the turkey production in the UK into a sophisticated industry employing the latest technology was perhaps illustrated by the recent £21 million investment by Moy Park, Northern Ireland’s largest food manufacturer, in opening a new turkey processing facility at its site in Ballymena, as part of a phased four-year, £37 million expansion programme. The new state-of-the-art facility will produce one million fresh turkeys for the Christmas period, and marks an important step in allowing Moy Park to increase production capability and develop new added value products.

European Brewing

Interim results from SABMiller confirm that the European beer market is still in recession. Although its global spread and price increases on its big international brands allowed the London-listed brewer to lift profits and sales at group level, its European business reported a fall in profit due declining beer volume and continued down-trading by consumers.

SABMiller is continuing to expand in emerging beer markets of the world. It has just entered the Argentinean market to extend its growing business in Latin America.

Dairy Developments

There was welcome market news for European dairy exporters as the latest research from Rabobank reveals that domestic supply shortages are forcing China and India to increase their imports of dairy products. Rabobank now predicts that the demand from China for higher dairy imports will continue for three more years, not just 12-18 months as initially anticipated.

Rabobank expects that while India will be generally self sufficient in dairy, it is likely to turn to the world market for fats in poor seasons. Given the vast scale of both markets, their continuing demand for imports will impact dairy processors, dairy farmers and dairy prices internationally for the coming years, says Rabobank.

Meanwhile, one of Europe’s largest dairy groups, FrieslandCampina, is to invest Eur47 million to improve efficiency at its Dutch cheese business, although this will entail the closure of two plants.

Netherlands registered dairy company Milkiland, which operates in the Ukraine and Russia, is planning to invest Eur83–106 million, including acquisitions, between 2011 and 2013.

Also on the dairy front, the Eur1.4 billion bid by French group Lactalis to buy Yoplait and keep the international yoghurt brand in French hands has been rejected. Similarly, another European food business with a billion-plus price tag, United Biscuits, is also still in play following the collapse of exclusive talks between its two private equity owners Blackstone Group and PAI Partners, and Chinese food conglomerate Bright Food Group.

Sustainability a Key Issue

Sustainability remains a major issue for consumers and consequently food and drink manufacturers. In the UK, research by IGD shows that almost 30% of shoppers want food manufacturers and grocery retailers to reduce waste. Over thirty leading food and grocery companies have now announced they are voluntarily committed to waste prevention measures.

Unilever also recently unveiled plans to decouple its future growth from environmental impact. The food and consumer goods giant has pledged to halve the environmental footprint of its products and to source 100% of its agricultural raw materials sustainably.

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