Greencore balancing growth in US

Greencore balancing growth in US

Greencore is increasing the capacity of its US food-to-go business and expanding its reach to the west coast of the country as it works to build a US$1bn business in the market.

The Irish food-to-go manufacturer this morning (25 November) revealed it will open a production facility near Seattle. It will be Greencore's first manufacturing site on the west coast.

The move will allow Greencore to service a contract with a "key customer" in the region from the second half of fiscal 2016.

Speaking to analysts during a conference call, Greencore management said the company is committing approximately GBP20m (US$31.3m) to the site, which will generate $25m through the "principle contract". The plant will have additional capacity to enable Greencore to capitalise on further opportunities in the region and house a product development facility.

CEO Patrick Coveney said: "We are in the middle of a very rapid scale-up of our business [in the US]... We are evolving towards having a national food-to-go footprint in the United States. It is going to take a while to get there."

The company is ramping up capacity throughout the US. Greencore has started construction of a GBP20m greenfield sandwich manufacturing facility in Quonset, Rhode Island, and has invested GBP7m in its Jacksonville facility in order to manufacture frozen food-to-go products.

According to Coveney, the chief challenge the company faces in the US is balancing its rapid growth in the market against the need to expand capacity and ensure high operating standards.

"This tension between balancing two risks is one of our key ongoing board discussions. Nobody doubts the market opportunity or that our strategy is right, but it is around how we balance the pace of delivery of that... the principle competitors that Greencore will have in the food-to-go space are people who aren't already in the market as opposed to the incumbents," Coveney said.

"We are in a race to try to have a $1bn [US] business over the next few years."

The company reported a 15% increase in underlying US sales as it delivered its full-year numbers earlier today.