Business

Foyle Food Group beefs up sales as it pushes into China

Foyle Food Group started selling its meat in the Chinese market earlier in the summer
Gary McDonald Business Editor

DERRY-headquartered food firm the Foyle Group has beefed up sales and profits as it continues its long-term investment programme - and after it recently became the first European Union agri-firm in two decades to put Irish beef back on people's plates in China.

The holding company for the Campsie-based meat processor revealed that its turnover soared by 15 per cent during 2017 from £306.1 million to £352 million.

Its gross profit jumped by 7 per cent from £21.5m to £24.5m, and on a bottom line basis it retained £2,994,391 in profits against £2,828,625 a year earlier.

And the company's net assets rose over the period from £17.3m to just over £20m.

Figures filed at Companies House also show that Foyle Food Group Holdings (formerly Faughan Ltd) employed an average of 1,194 staff - up from 1,042 the year before.

In turn that pushed up the group's overall wages bill from £25.4m in 2016 to £29.3m last year, with its directors being paid a combined £992,827 (the highest of the directors' salaries was £215,552).

In a strategic report accompanying the accounts the directors of Foyle - which has the capacity to process 300,000 cattle a year across its five primary processing locations in Ireland and Britain - said they were "pleased" with both the result for the year and the group position at the year end.

They said: "The Group intends to continue its commitment to capital investment to provide high quality products and services to its customers.

"There are many challenges facing the agricultural markets, including sourcing supply and the challenge of competitors.

"But the Group believes it is well positioned to meet these future challenges and opportunities within this challenging market-place."

The group is wholly owned by the Acheson family and now in its fourth decade.

The business is one of a handful of producers in Europe with approval to export to the United States.

And last month the Irish News revealed its breakthrough into the Chinese market when beef from the Foyle Food Group officially went on sale online for the first time on Alibaba's Tmall Supermarket and Yiguo Fresh platforms for consumers in the Shanghai region.

China banned beef from the EU and US during the BSE crisis in 2000, and although the ban was officially lifted three months ago, trade only resumed in August.

Foyle Food Group subsidiary Donegal Meat Processors in Carrigans was the first of three Irish factories approved to ship frozen boneless beef to China after meeting strict criteria following rigorous audits.

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