Blog: Dean BestTroubled waters leads to UK veg shake-up

Dean Best | 20 August 2007

The recent floods in the UK look to have been the final straw for the owners of one of the country’s leading vegetable groups.

Christian Salvesen, a London-listed company with interests in sectors ranging from aviation logistics to building materials, has decided to offload its vegetable processing business, Christian Salvesen Foods.

The decision comes just months after the company warned of a “pea crop disaster” in the UK due to the severe wet weather in the country this year.

The happy owner of the Salvesen business, Belgium-based Pinguin, had also been vocal in its warnings on the impact of the wet weather on the UK vegetable sector.

Earlier this month, Pinguin boss Herwig Dejonghe claimed that it was a matter of "national interest" for UK retailers to help the sector ride out the recent severe floods in the country.

However, it seems that economic realism has outweighed the somewhat romantic notion that UK retailers, themselves embroiled in something of a price war, would raise the price of a packet of peas to boost the revenues of their vegetable suppliers.

Pinguin knew it had a better chance of flourishing after the floods if it acquired the scale to become the key supplier of frozen veg to UK retailers, rather than simply hoping for the help of the supermarkets.

As for Salvesen? No doubt the company will be relieved it can focus on the somewhat firmer foundations of bricks and mortar.


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