Netherlands-based meat business Vion Food Group plans to divest its remaining German assets, five months after closing a plant there and selling three others.

The company said it wants to focus on the Benelux markets.

In a statement issued yesterday (4 June), Vion said it has decided to conduct a review of its strategic options in Germany, where it still operates from 11 sites and employs around 3,000 people.

“Vion is committed to securing the right partners for its German employees and businesses, allowing growth and a sound future for these assets and their respective customers and suppliers. No closures are anticipated,” it said.

It said final decisions are still to be made and will be subject to the discussions with interested parties.

Vion CEO Ronald Lotgerink said: “We are strongly committed to securing the most capable partners for our German portfolio, providing the best concept for prosperous future development of these businesses. This is our promise to our employees, our farmers and our customers.”

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In January, the pork and beef processor signed agreements to sell two of its meat facilities in Germany to local meat major Tönnies Group. These were a cattle slaughterhouse and pre-packed facility in Altenburg in the Thuringia region and a ham processing plant in the Westphalia region.

A pig processing plant in Perleberg was sold to meat processor Uhlen.

At the same time, Vion said it would close its pig plant in Emstek as it was unable to find a buyer.

The latest moves followed the earlier announcements of plant closures in Germany. In May 2023, it said it would be closing a beef plant at Bad Bramstedt, impacting 250 employees and five months later it announced the closure of a convenience foods plant in Großostheim, affecting 220 jobs.

In the middle of last year, Vion set out organisational changes in a bid to "stimulate sustainable growth”.

In its latest statement, setting out its plan to leave the German market, Vion, which turned over €5.3bn ($5.8bn) in 2022, said its remaining German assets and businesses “have a strong future, benefitting from well-established regional facilities and leading brands”.

It said starting the disposal of processing assets in Germany at the beginning of 2024 has attracted interest in the remaining German assets.

The company said that during recent years, it has made “significant investments” in sustainable production, including solar panels, cooling facilities and further improvements of its CO2 footprint, as well as projects in animal welfare and food safety.

“These investments will provide the framework for the sustainable future development of our German assets offering an attractive operational base,” it said.

On its broader strategy to focus on the Benelux markets, Vion said: “To accelerate its strategy of establishing sustainable integrated chains in times of changing markets and strong competition from non-EU markets, Vion has taken the decision to focus on production and sourcing in the Benelux region.

“The Benelux region enables Vion to capitalise on its market-leadership position in pork and beef, as well as in animal welfare and sustainability, its global sales network and its advanced data-driven valorisation capabilities. [A] successful transformation programme [and] recent and potential divestment steps in Germany lay a robust foundation for the future growth and resilience of Vion.”

Lotgerink added: “To achieve our ambitious goal of becoming the most sustainable meat company in Europe, we need to focus. We see a clear opportunity to improve our position by using our robust heritage with farmers and established networks.”