Belfast Telegraph

Hilton Food Group sees 10% profit after taking up stake in vegetarian products firm

Hilton Food boss Robert Watson
Hilton Food boss Robert Watson

By Holly Williams

A move to tap into the fast-growing vegetarian market has helped food processing and packaging firm Hilton Food Group serve up a hike in half-year profits.

It posted a 10.6% rise in interim pre-tax profits to £23.2m and hailed an "encouraging" contribution from its recently bought 50% stake in Netherlands-based vegetarian and vegan product manufacturer Dalco Food.

The group, which completed the Dalco stake purchase in January, was previously solely a meat producer.

The surging popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets has prompted a raft of food firms to develop meat alternatives; recent successes include the successful vegan sausage roll launched by bakery chain Greggs. Hilton also snapped up Seachill - a fish and seafood supplier to UK supermarkets - for more than £80m in late 2017. It also bought HFR, a sous-vide manufacturer specialising in cooking sealed food slowly in water.

Results showed the Dalco deal helped western European earnings rise 8% to £26.8m for the six months to July 1.

Hilton also supplies all of supermarket giant Tesco's packed red meat in Britain. Executive chairman Robert Watson said: "Hilton has expanded its operational scale and diversified into new high growth proteins while delivering continued increases in volume and profit. Investments in vegetarian and sous-vide manufacturers increase the new protein offerings we can supply to our retailer partners."

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