Meat processor ABP Food Group has agreed to buy the Fane Valley co-operative’s 50% holding in the two companies’ joint venture red meat business, subject to regulatory approvals. Financial details are not available.

The deal includes complete control of Linden Foods in Northern Ireland and the Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats (ICM) businesses in the Republic of Ireland. Linden Foods has fresh meat processing facilities in Dungannon in Northern Ireland, Burradon in north east England and the Kettyle Irish Foods subsidiary based in Fermanagh. APB says the businesses will continue to operate as normal and under their respective trading names for the foreseeable future.

The Slaney Foods and Irish Country Meats joint venture commenced in 2016, with Linden Foods joining a year later. At the time, Fane Valley said involving ABP would strengthen its global sales network and help maximise returns from all parts of the animal including the fifth quarter – both necessary in a post-Brexit trading era.

“The Linden, Slaney and ICM businesses have progressed positively during our joint venture relationship with ABP,” notes Fane Valley chief executive Trevor Lockhart. “The trading environment however does not stand still, and all businesses need to continue to evolve and develop to maintain their competitive position in the market. Having reviewed the way forward with our JV partner and taking account of anticipated market developments, we have jointly concluded that the future objectives for Linden, Slaney and ICM can be best achieved under a new business structure.”

ABP chief executive Frank Stephenson adds: “This development is the direct result of our successful joint venture arrangement, which has enabled all parties to improve their offerings to customers and to compete more effectively nationally and internationally. The time is now right to build on this success to ensure that we continue to be a dynamic and innovative organisation – we face the twin challenges of operating in a very competitive global marketplace, whilst also addressing the change in agricultural policies, Brexit and Covid-19.”