Food & Drink Business Europe has just published its seventeenth annual ranking of the top one hundred food and drink manufacturers in the UK and Ireland, The Top 100 companies are ranked according to their most recently available turnover figures and pre-tax profits are also listed.
Headed by Unilever’s refreshment and foods business with sales of
Eur22.8 billion (£19.4 billion) last year, the 2012 Top 100 incorporates companies ranging in scale down to brewer SA Bain & Co, with sales of £113.6 million in 2011. Diageo is the largest beverages group and companies with turnovers in excess of £1 billion occupy the top 24 places within the 2012 listing.
Merger and acquisition activity, which was relatively subdued throughout 2009 and 2010, has been steadily increasing during the past
12 months. Diageo was the most active company within the Top 100 in terms of acquisition spend. The largest deal within the food sector involves the sale of the iconic Weetabix brand to Bright Food, one of China’s largest food groups, by private equity firm Lion Capital for an enterprise value of £1.2 billion.
A good deal of domestic deal activity has centred upon Premier Foods, as the UK’s largest indigenous food manufacturer continued to make disposals to reduce its debt mountain. A key deal within the UK convenience food sector during the past year was Greencore’s £113 million acquisition of Uniq.
Major consolidation within the UK dairy industry has been a feature of the past six months. Robert Wiseman Dairies, which processes and delivers more than 30% of the fresh milk consumed in Britain, was acquired by Muller Dairy (UK) for £279.5 million. Further dairy industry consolidation is on the cards. Scandinavian dairy co-operative Arla Foods is about to merge its UK operations with those of fellow co-operative Milk Link to create the UK’s largest dairy business.