Belfast Telegraph

Dunbia deal with UK food firm comes to 'a standstill'

By John Mulgrew

A major deal between Co Tyrone meat giant Dunbia and UK food firm 2 Sisters has stalled.

In April it was revealed both firms were in talks about a collaboration.

That was confirmed in a tweet from a 2 Sisters Group account, which said it was "in discussion" with Dunbia "about an exciting potential collaboration".

However, it's understood the potential multi-million pound deal could now have collapsed.

A spokeswoman for Dunbia said: "The process is ongoing and we have no comment to make at this time".

In December, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that a teaser document had been prepared to be sent out to businesses interested in snapping up the Co Tyrone company.

Dunbia started off life as a red meat processor, primarily beef, but has now grown its reach across the meat industry.

A spokesman for 2 Sisters Group, said: "It's our standard company policy not to comment on market speculation and rumour. This position remains unchanged."

There had been speculation Dunbia was in the process of being sold to Brazilian firm JBS, which bought Moy Park last year. But the firm has dismissed those claims.

The firm 2 Sisters is behind household brands Fox's Biscuits, pie-maker Holland's and Irish frozen vegetables and bread label Green Isle.

It employs 23,000 people at 48 sites across Great Britain, including 1,000 staff in red meat plants in Devon and Cornwall.

Two other firms, Danish Crown and Cranswick - which are two of the biggest players in the UK pork market - had also reportedly made approaches to buy the pig-processing division of Dunbia.

Last week, Cranswick said the plunge in the value of the pound will cement the rapid growth of its export business and could put more home-grown pork on British dinner plates.

Dunbia is one of the biggest processors of red meat from Northern Ireland farmers.

The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) has welcomed a commitment from Westminster to keep current levels of farm payments until 2020.

UFU president Barclay Bell said the plan to maintain direct support and existing payments had brought some stability to farmers in Northern Ireland.

"We can now plan for the next number of years, with the assurance that funding levels will remain fixed.

"This is a welcome guarantee at a difficult time for all commodities," he said.

It's also understood Coleraine firm WD Meats has shut part of Ballymena Meats, after it was revealed the company was buying the assets of its rival. It's believed WD Meats in Coleraine had been in the process of taking over property owned by Ballymena Meats in Pennybridge Industrial Estate outside the Co Antrim town.

Ballymena Meats specialises in the slaughter of beef and also has a large cold store.

Belfast Telegraph