ForFarmers plugs gaps in UK portfolio through takeover of forage business

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

ForFarmers plugs gaps in UK portfolio through takeover of forage business

Related tags Compound feed Fodder

Dutch group, ForFarmers, has continued its recent expansion drive in the UK through the acquisition of a feed and forage business in a deal valued at €19.3 million ($23.8m).

The Netherlands-based company has bought up the compound feed, blends, co-products, straights and forage activities of Countrywide Farmers, activities which are reported to generate a turnover of €158m and tonnage output of around 400,000 annually.

The deal, which is subject to is subject to clearance by the UK Competition Authorities, gives the Dutch group an extensive forage portfolio that includes fertilizer, grass and maize seed and silage additives. 

Yoram Knoop, ForFarmers CEO, said customer demands both in the UK and across Europe are changing as scale and complexity increases in the food and farming industry, with the group reacting to this by supplying livestock nutrition in whatever form producers require it. “On ruminant farms this includes grassland and silage management and the acquisition of Countrywide’s forage business will ensure that ForFarmers has a significant presence in this market,”​ he said.

Knoop expects the latest acquisition to have a positive influence on earnings per share in 2016.

The past two and a half years has seen the Lochem headquartered company takeover several UK feed companies - BOCM Pauls, Dairy Direct, HST Feeds and Wheyfeed. And it recently announced the rebranding of all those businesses under the ForFarmers brand.

Its UK operations prior to Countrywide acquisition included 12 compound feed facilities, six blend plants, a co-products and by-products division as well as premix and mineral sector activities, which, taken all together, contribute around £590m (€746m) in turnover for the group.

Forging alliances

Stijn Steendijk, director of strategy and organization at ForFarmers, told this publication in October that the company reckoned there was still good territory to gain in the UK, and that the feed giant was looking at all avenues in terms of future expansion.

“We still have room to improve in terms of our total feed business model in the UK and elsewhere. A new approach is to forge alliances with suppliers to address those gaps – something we did not do so readily in the past.”

Indeed, last month saw ForFarmers reveal that it had entered into a tie-up with Dutch feed counterpart, Nutreco, to focus on a young animal nutrition portfolio, with an emphasis on piglet feed initially.

Steendijk said the company is also chasing additional assets in Belgium and Germany given the fact that it was “not yet the number one or even number two compound feed player”​ in either of those markets.

He also noted the underlying growth trend in the four markets that ForFarmers operates in has been strong despite the continuing challenges of tight margins and high costs for its farmer customers.

The group posted an overall operating result for the first half of 2014 of €27.2m ($34.8m) - a jump of 33% compared to the €20.5m reported for the same period 12 months previously.

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