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Veetee Foods storms up ST table

13 December 2011

The Sunday Times' Fast Track 100 reveals several food companies are among Britain's 100 fastest-growing private companies

Eight food-related companies featured in the Sunday Times' Top 50, the highest ranked of which was Edinburgh-based diet meal retailer, Diet Chef. Top of the pile among manufacturers was Veetee Foods, a pre-packaged food manufacturer based in Kent.

Veetee Foods, which sent its technical manager to the last Appetite for Engineering, sells 25 million trays of premium ready-cooked rice each year. It saw an increase in annual sales growth of 163.83%, from £607,000 in 2007 to £11.1m in 2010.

The company, which was founded by Moni Varma in 2005 with £10m of start-up capital, makes its own 'Dine In' microwaveable rice trays, and claims to have developed a way of cooking natural white rice on an industrial scale.

''To cook for millions of consumers on an industrial scale required a special technique,'' said Moni Varma, managing director. ''We sold 25 million portions of rice last year and we're hoping to make that 50 million in 2012.''

Varma says automation is a small part of the process - the real secret, he says, is to give natural white rice - with its aroma and texture - the taste of home-made rice on an industrial scale.

Ella's Kitchen, a baby food producer based in Henley, saw growth of 99.89% in annual sales growth, and was the second highest food manufacturer at 25 (down 11 from the 2010 chart). The company claims one of its products is eaten somewhere every second.

The third highest food manufacturer was Fever-Tree, at 31 overall. This mixed drinks manufacturer is based in south west London, and saw growth of 91.13%. The company says it uses the highest quality quinine sourced from Congolese fever trees.

Next was MPM Products, which was down from position 32 last year to 40 in this year's chart. This natural pet food producer is based in Chesire, and saw 78.15% growth. It makes what it describes as premium cat food varieties and includes tuna and ostrich.

Another Chesire-based company slotted in at 45. APS Salads, which grew 72.19%, sells 300m tomatoes each year to British supermarkets. Founded in 1949, this firm has 84 staff members.

Other notable entries included Oxford-based Speciality Powders (89), which saw 52.17% growth, and recently diversified into sport protein drinks by acquiring a Dutch company.

The Sunday Times' Fast Track 100 is compiled by Oxford research company Fast Track.

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