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Food firms star in new ST league table

18 October 2010

The Sunday Times' Top Track 250, compiled by Oxford research company Fast Track, reveals several food firms are among Britain's leading mid-market private companies

Nine food companies featured in the Sunday Times' Top 25; top of the pile was food distributor and farmer, Vestey Foods Group, which is based in Central London, and has increased its ranking from 13 last year.

The Group comprises 13 food companies specialising in the import, storage and distribution of various foodstuffs from global suppliers into the various local market places in which it operates. It's a young group, largely formed through acquisitions in the past 10 years, and in September 2007 it brought the 13 companies into the single identity of Vestey Foods.

With a staff of 1087 it's fully owned by the Vestey family settlement and has an operating profit of £4.8 million.

Second on the food list, and fifth overall, is Dunbia, a meat product wholesaler in County Tyrone. ''Over the years Dunbia has developed to become one of Europe's leading and respected suppliers of top quality beef, lamb and pork products for the national and international retail, commercial and foodservice markets,'' the company says on its website. ''While Dunbia is a multinational enterprise, at the heart it's still a family owned business rooted in down-to-earth values.''

Noble Foods is third in the food and beverage sector, and sixth overall, having rocketed up from 51 last year. The egg products manufacturer, which has featured in a few case studies in Food Processing with Interfood Technology, is based in Hertfordshire and has 1789 members of staff. Its operating profit is £22.9 million.

Animal feed manufacturer The Agricola Group is fourth (ninth overall). Based in Ipswitch it has 1004 members of staff and operates 16 food mills across the country. It traces its roots to 1893 with the creation of R&W Paul. Warburtons the baker is 10th overall and fifth on the food list. Based in Bolton, it's completely owned by the Warburtons family and has 4921 staff members.

Next up is food wholesaler the Henderson Group from County Antrim, followed by frozen food retailer Farmfoods and Argent Group Europe, a food supplier from Central London. Next is Lamex Food Group, a food importer and exporter from Hertfordshire, and just missing the Top 25 is Weetabix, the breakfast cereal maker from Northamptonshire.

Further down the list are whisky and rum distiller, The Edrington Group from Glasgow; ice cream manufacturer, R&R Ice Cream from North Yorkshire; seafood trader, Andrew Marr International from North Humberside; wine retailer, Direct Wines from Reading; and wine and spirit merchant, Berry Bros & Rudd from Central London.

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