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UK pig sector 'should expand over time', feed firm predicts

PUBLISHED: 17:10 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:06 15 March 2019

The UK pig industry isn't self-sufficient, so there are opportunities for it, ForFarmers predicts  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The UK pig industry isn't self-sufficient, so there are opportunities for it, ForFarmers predicts Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

An animal feed firm which has its UK headquarters in Suffolk expects UK pig farmers to expand their herds ‘in due course’ once the uncertainties about Brexit disappear.

ForFarmers' UK division saw revenue and gross profits rise in 2018  Picture: FORFARMERSForFarmers' UK division saw revenue and gross profits rise in 2018 Picture: FORFARMERS

Dutch firm ForFarmers, which has a UK base in Bury St Edmunds, saw its UK revenue and gross profit rise in 2018 compared to 2017, according to its latest results.

The firm sees an opportunity for UK pig producers, as the UK is not self-sufficient in pig meat, it said in its report.

Earlier this year, it announced its intention to close one of its older sites at Blandford in Dorset with the loss of about 30 jobs as part of group-wide rationalisation plans.

ForFarmers UK operates 15 manufacturing sites, and the Blandford site was deemed to need ‘significant’ work to modernise it. The group has around 2,700 staff, and operates across the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Poland and the UK. Last year. its turnover reached more than £2bn overall and total feed volumes were up 4.9% to 10m tonnes.

ForFarmers chief executive Yoram Knoop  Picture: FORFARMERSForFarmers chief executive Yoram Knoop Picture: FORFARMERS

In the UK, rising milk prices and weather conditions led to a higher demand for feed in the ruminant sector.

UK revenue rose by 6.4% to reach £564k, and gross profit increased by 5.1% to £109k.

The UK saw larger players in the pig market continuing to consolidate, affecting market dynamics, while rising consumer demand for poultry products led to growth in that sector.

“Compound feed volume rose, driven by higher demand in the dairy, beef and sheep sectors in particular. This was due to the dry summer and the resulting shortage of forage home-grown by farmers,” said the company.

The Bury St Edmunds UK headquarters of ForFarmers  Picture: ADAM J NORTHThe Bury St Edmunds UK headquarters of ForFarmers Picture: ADAM J NORTH

Some costs rose, including logistics, due to higher energy and fuel prices and the training of new drivers.

“2018 was a year of two sides for us,” said group chief executive Yoram Knoop. “We are now operational in five countries and have more sales opportunities in the expanding poultry sector. Our portfolio segmentation across the various species is more in balance: volumes are more equally divided over the ruminant, swine and poultry sector. In 2018 we sold over 10m tonnes of feed, the first European Total Feed company to do so.”

But it was wise, given current market circumances, to reduce the firm’s cost base over the next two years with a group-wide efficiency drive, he said.

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