While poultry giant Moy Park remains firmly at the top of this year’s list once again, it’s facing wider industry and economic headwinds with rising input costs, according to director Justin Coleman.
Moy Park posted turnover of £1.46m for the accounting period ending December 2020, down from £1.58m a year earlier.
However during the same period it saw its profits rising by around 18% to £82.7m.
The company has topped the Ulster Business Top 100 Northern Ireland Companies list with A&L Goodbody, for the 11th year in a row.
The company, which continues to be headed by Chris Kirke, has been owned by US giant Pilgrim’s Pride since 2017, and was formerly under the Brazilian group JBS before that.
Speaking about the last 12 months, Justin Coleman, agri-business and live production services director, says “it’s been another strong year” however inflation started to kick in and have an impact towards the second half of the year.
“During the second half of the year inflation started to creep into feed, fuel and fertiliser,” he told Ulster Business.
“Demand for poultry products is still strong as is demand for QSR products across nine different categories in retail.
“Demand for nutritious, healthy and great value products is still out there but [there were]definitely headwinds in the second half of the year.”
Looking at the next set of accounts, he said: “The top line view is that they wouldn’t be as strong as the previous year’s on the back of those headwinds during the second half of the year.
“If you talk about a headline inflation figure, say it’s 9.1%, food inflation would probably be double that.
“Obviously with our partners we have to work on getting those costs passed through. I don’t think we have topped out yet but that’s more of a 2022 problem as opposed to a 2021 challenge.
“That will continue into 2022… the [war in Ukraine] happened in February and that drove a series of challenges around energy, fuel and fertiliser which has driven the cost of production up considerably.”
And on the NI Protocol, something major agri-firms have said has helped business, Justin said: “We haven’t been impacted. Yes, there’s work and steps you need to step through but we are now cautiously [looking at] what’s the outcome over the next couple of months.
“Up until now we have been operating within the parameters of the Protocol.
“There are more administrative processes to go through but I wouldn’t say it has slowed our business down, you just have to deal with it and get on with it, and absolutely watch the opportunities that it creates on the back of that.
“We will wait and see what transpires on the back of that.”
Looking ahead, he said the business’s core remains here in Northern Ireland and it’s working to improve staff retention as companies across the region struggle with recruiting staff.
“It’s business as usual. We remain headquartered in Northern Ireland and proudly Northern Irish, but spread across three geographies,” he said. “The big focus is people and creating opportunities for growth for people to join and stay in the business – pivoting away from recruiting to retaining people and continuing to grow peoples’ careers within the sector.”
He says it remains “challenging” to recruit workers, like many other sectors across Northern Ireland.
And on the Top 100 he said: “All recognition is nice. We hold ourselves to a standard about being the best in our sector… the recognition around scale, turnover and profitability are all nice indicators that we are doing a good job and striving to be the best in our industry.”