Integrated pig producer and processor Tulip has added to its pig production business through the acquisition of the Suffolk-based Easey Holdings. Financial details are not available.

Tulip, the UK arm of the Danish Crown group, already owns the BQP pig breeding and rearing business it acquired from AB Agri in the early 2000s.

A Tulip spokesman says that Tulip currently holds around 10% of the total UK pig breeding herd which Defra estimated at 409,000 sows at the end of 2016. The Easey acquisition increases this to some 15%. Before the deal, Tulip claimed to produce 1.5 million finished pigs each year.

Tulip is seeking regulatory approval from the Competition & Markets Authority, but says this is not a mandatory approval. It is making a submission for the sake of completeness and does not anticipate there being any competition concerns.

Family owned Easey Holdings, headquartered in Ipswich, had built up a significant pig breeding operation in East Anglia since the 1960s under the chairmanship of Malcolm Easey, who died in February. It pioneered the “bed and breakfast” system of rearing and finishing pigs on contract farms. It consists of four divisions – breeding sows; growing pigs; a veterinary practice and a livestock transport business.

“Customer demand is rising for pigmeat produced to high welfare standards supported by strong provenance credentials,” notes Andrew Saunders, agriculture director of Tulip’s farming division. “This acquisition forms part of Tulip Ltd’s strategic objective to further support the UK pig farming industry, allowing us to more effectively utilise our skills and expertise, capitalising on our industry-leading best practices which have been developed by farmers, vets and other experts within the organisation.

“We are pleased that the existing management team within Easey Holdings has agreed to remain in place which will ensure we are able to retain the business’ core family values and maintain stability for employees, farmers, suppliers and customers. Easey Holdings will continue to operate independently with all existing employees to be retained. Existing customer and supplier contracts and commitments will also be honoured.”

Jais Valeur, chief executive at Danish Crown, adds: “Tulip has now successfully completed its profit turnaround” (the UK operation made a £22 million loss in the year to September 2016) “and is focusing on cementing the significant progress made during the last year and is planning for the future. This acquisition is in that context and is part of a range of measures designed to Brexit-proof the business.”