Belfast Telegraph

Moy Park's profits hit by hike in grain prices

By Clare Weir

Despite breaking through a £1bn turnover milestone, profits at poultry giant Moy Park in 2011 plunged by £25m, around 82%, with the company blaming soaring grain prices.

One of the biggest employers in the region - with around 10,000 staff across nine sites in Northern Ireland, England and France - the firm made a pre-tax profit of £4.8m for 2011, slashing the company's profit margin to 0.5%.

Operating profit was £7.4m.

The company, which was listed at number one in the Belfast Telegraph's Top 100 Businesses survey in 2012, supplies retailers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe with poultry products and supplies hatching eggs to the European market.

The company processes more than 200m chickens and over 2m turkeys per year, working with over 600 farmer suppliers in Northern Ireland.

Moy Park chief executive Nigel Dunlop said that despite the massive hike in grain and soya - literally, chicken feed - the company has continued to invest, ploughing £32m into capital expenditure, bringing the total investment in the business over the last four years to £106m.

He revealed that the company had to spend £70m more in the past year on raw material costs.

But he acknowledged that there are big challenges ahead.

"Increasing inflation costs is the greatest challenge we face," he said.

"Moy Park continues to work closely with our customers on price recovery and we have made headway in this area. Despite the ongoing challenge to overcome feed price and energy inflation, we have continued to invest in our business and our brands.

"Exceeding £1bn in sales revenues is a landmark achievement for Moy Park.

"We have continued to deliver a positive financial performance in the face of difficult trading conditions and are committed to building a strong and sustainable future for the business, further cementing our position as Northern Ireland's leading food company.

"Our achievements as a business in these important areas have been highlighted with recognition and awards in workplace and employment practices, the agricultural supply chain, environmental performance, sustainable best practice, manufacturing excellence and outstanding individuals."

Moy Park, which bought over the O'Kane's poultry firm two years ago, has been part of global food company Marfrig, based in Brazil, since 2008.