Hickson buys Welsh meat plant

A meat processing plant in Wales is under new ownership. Progressive Meats’ Craig Hickson and his wife have just bought Cig Calon Cymru (CCC), a meat processor close to Llanelli in South Wales.

CCC is a multi-species plant, primarily processing Welsh Black and cattle and also lambs, employing over 30 staff. The British Farmers Guardian newspaper reports that the deal includes an all new management team, as well as an export partnership for beef. New Zealander Hugh Brown is to take the role of general manager and there is a newly created livestock supply manager.

New Zealand Federated Farmers has supported the move and says that while a recently released PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report for New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) points towards growing New Zealand agribusiness in newer markets such as South America and China, Hickson has proven there is opportunity left in New Zealand’s traditional markets.

“While we must maximise the potential of New Zealand’s land resource, there is an inescapable logic about taking our intellectual property and skills globally,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers meat and fibre chairperson.

“If we take a leaf from the automotive industry, Toyota now makes most of its vehicles outside Japan. The challenge is in having capital markets which can help us seize these opportunities. We also need to be mindful there is still a lot of life left in our ‘old’ markets.”

Maxwell says this is an example of a progressive New Zealand meat company investing offshore. “There are others and they are not intended to simply be a meatpacker for our red meat, but to work in-market with local farmers to build their businesses and the overall market.

Getting inside markets, is what PwC/NZTE is calling for, she says.  “It is not dissimilar to how Fonterra works globally, or how Brazilian meat processors have become strong through global logistics and supply chain management.

“As New Zealand is a leading global exporter of red meat, we start to match that by becoming a leading global processor and marketer as well.”

The move maximises opportunities, markets and above all, returns, Maxwell believes.

In addition to owning Progressive Meats, Craig Hickson, who was named Federated Farmers’ 2012 Agribusiness Person of the Year in July, is also a B+LNZ Ltd director and a major shareholder of sheepmeat processor and exporter Ovation New Zealand. He and his wife also own a 1,500 hectare sheep, beef and venison farm.

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