Blog: Morrisons raises the bar on fresh food manufacturing

Michelle Russell | 15 March 2012

Morrisons' chief executive Dalton Philips has this week outlined plans for the group to become the UK's largest fresh food manufacturer.

Speaking at the retailer's Second Farming Conference yesterday (14 March), Philips announced plans to invest GBP21m in its livestock supply business, in addition to significant investment in the retailer's fruit, vegetable and salad packing operation, adding to recent investments in seafood and meat processing.

The GBP21m investment will increase the company's capacity at its abattoir in Colne, Lancashire. Morrisons will also complete a GBP200m investment in the expansion of its manufacturing food arm by 2013, meaning it will buy more fresh food directly from farmers than its rivals, it claims.

"If market conditions continue, we will become the UK's largest manufacturer of fresh food by 2015," Philips said. "This investment sets us apart from other retailers and means that we will be the biggest customer for UK farms."

By making more of its fresh products, Morrisons said it can "control quality, cut out middlemen and deal directly" with farmers.

Vion, whose operations are concentrated mainly in the meat sector, is currently the UK's largest manufacturer of fresh food, with Morrisons the second largest.

The announcement comes as competition in the UK's fresh food space is stepping up. Larger rival Tesco recently announced that it will be investing heavily to improve its fresh offering. Nevertheless, Morrisons distinctive farm-to-fork approach leaves it well-positioned to take on the challenge.



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