Irish multinational meat processor ABP has acquired a half share in the Linden Foods meat packing business owned by Northern Ireland’s Fane Valley agricultural co-operative. Fane Valley says the agreement will enable it to access wider global markets through APB as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Linden Foods has facilities in Dungannon, Northern Ireland; the Kettyle Irish Foods operation in Fermanagh and at Burradon on Tyneside. In 2016, ABP and Fane Valley agreed a joint venture for the Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats businesses.

Last year, Fane Valley and Ireland’s Lakeland Dairies abandoned a proposed merger which would have seen Fane Valley lead a merged agribusiness, with a combined 500,000 tonnes of feed manufacturing capability and projected annual revenues of £125m. At the same time, Lakeland Dairies would have managed the combined milk processing facilities which have a total capacity of over 1 billion litres and a £480m turnover. Instead of the merger, Lakeland acquired the Fane Valley Dairies business based at Banbridge, Co Down

“Linden Foods is a growing company within the UK red meat sector, delivering the highest levels of innovation, quality, service and value to its long established customer base,” states Trevor Lockhart, chief executive of Fane Valley Co-op. “Our experience of working closely with ABP Food Group in the Republic of Ireland has been extremely positive and we now wish to build on this success.

“The involvement of ABP will strengthen our global sales network and assist in ensuring Linden maximises the returns from all parts of the animal, including the fifth quarter. This will be a pre-requisite to delivering sustainable returns to primary producers in a post-Brexit era.”

Frank Stephenson, chief executive of ABP Food Group adds: “We are very pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with Fane Valley Co-Op and look forward to building on our successful partnership with Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats.”