Hilton Food Group - strengthening its relationship with retailer Woolworths in Australia.

Hilton Food Group - strengthening its relationship with retailer Woolworths in Australia.

UK meat packing business Hilton Food Group has restructured its agreement with Australia's largest grocer, Woolworths, and will take over the running of two of the retailer's plants.

The new deal also includes long-term contracts for Hilton Foods to supply Woolworths' supermarkets with packaged and "value-added" meat products.

Hilton will begin full operational control of the Bunbury and Truganina plants from 1 July. At the end of a transitional period of two years, Hilton will acquire the plants in a deal expected to be worth AUD85m (US$67m). 

During the transition period, Hilton will also commission a new meat processing plant in Queensland. 

Hilton said the extension to the current partnership between the two companies will enable it to continue to service Woolworths' expansive store network under long term 15-year contracts. 

Robert Watson, chief executive of Hilton, said: "We look forward to welcoming the Woolworths employees in Bunbury and Truganina to our team. We have been working closely with Woolworths for five years and we have a deep understanding and respect for each other. 

"Our long-term partnership with Woolworths is growing and this is the next phase of an even stronger relationship. The long-term contract between us displays the mutual trust we have in our partnership and Hilton looks forward to working with the Woolworths team to strengthen further our world class meat offer in Australia."

Pat McEntee, Woolworths director of meat, said: "Woolworths is pleased with the value the current joint venture has created within its meat supply chain and is excited to extend the partnership with Hilton to deliver affordable, innovative and convenient protein choices for its customers."

In October Hilton announced it was building a plant in New Zealand in its latest project with Woolworths.

Read just-food's interview with Hilton CEO Robert Watson: Hilton eyes further international expansion.