Brits meet Tulip boss

by 5m Editor
27 May 2004, at 12:00am

UK - The British pig industry is unlikely to challenge Danish Crown's takeover of Flagship Foods, believes BPEX chairman Stewart Houston. The takeover, which will create one of Britain's biggest food groups, is conditional upon competition clearance by the European Commission.

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His remarks follow a meeting yesterday with Carsten Jakobsen, who made the noises British pig producers want to hear. Jakobsen is present chairman of Tulip Ltd. He will chair the new group that will be created by merging Flagship Foods with Danish Crown's British subsidiary, Tulip Limited.

The new group would be keen to keep the British premium, to support the Quality Standard Mark, and to grow the national herd, he told Stewart Houston and BPEX chief executive Mick Sloyan.

"He agrees with us that the British herd must maintain critical mass," said Stewart Houston after the meeting. The Danes say they will be committed to British breeding and production. They will use their expertise to add value to their business, which includes Roach Foods, Dalehead Foods, Flagship Fresh Meats and BQP.

"My personal view is that the new group will bring more positives than negatives and as such we are unlikely to see it as anti-competitive," said Stewart Houston.

The Danes say they will be seeking to increase exports from Britain with a view to making better use of carcasses. And they will introduce Danish best practice to the abattoirs and processing plants.

Much praised for their ability to cooperate, they will be seeking a similar close relationship with BQP producers. BQP has been successful at winning long term contracts with leading retailers, and this is an achievement the Danes both understand and appreciate.

"I hope they will underpin and improve upon BQP's successes, so that longer term agreements with retailers become the norm in our industry, rather than the exception," said Stewart Houston, who will be meeting Carsten Jakobsen again in July, after any competition issues have been considered.

BQP's new owners say they want to keep the "British specification" premium. Carsten Jakobsen told Stewart Houston he was a hundred percent behind differentiation, as were Danish pig farmers. For this reason he was keen to see a continuation of independent auditing of producers and processors.

"We hope this meeting will prove to be the start of a long and fruitful relationship. We envisage regular meetings in the future. Currently we like most of what we are hearing, but we will need to watch how things pan out in practice," said Stewart Houston.

Source: National Pig Association - 27th May 2004

5m Editor