ABP exits frozen burger market

A burger manufacturer affected by the horsemeat scandal has decided to exit the frozen burger sector in Ireland.

ABP Food Group, which suspended burger production at its Silvercrest Food site in January, because of positive horse DNA results, has sold its facility at Ballybay in Co Monaghan to the Kepak Group, which is subject to Competition Authority approval.

The sale will see 122 staff at the Silvercrest site move over to Kepak management. ABP explained that, over the last three months, it had “maintained the Silvercrest staff on full pay while the future of the plant was resolved”.

Meanwhile, ABP Food Group chief executive Paul Finnerty said the decision to sell was the right thing to do for everyone. He explained it would allow the group to move forwards “positively” with its chilled beef business and other developing businesses.

The horsemeat issue

Finnerty added that it “has become apparent that the ABP Food Group was only one of a large number of leading European operations affected by the equine issue. The issue affected frozen burgers, which are not core to the group’s future business strategy.”

He added: “The company confirms that its chilled business – which is the core activity for the group – has been unaffected by the horsemeat issue and sales of its chilled beef products have remained unaffected.”

The group employs 8,000 in 36 facilities in eight countries, of which 2,500 are employed in Ireland. ABP said that, over the last three years, it has invested €150m in the expansion and development of its businesses in Ireland and abroad.

Finnerty ended: “ABP continues to meet our ongoing customer demands for quality and service; we would like to thank our customers for their continuing support for all our operations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the workforce at Silvercrest for their dedication and hard work over the years, and to wish them well with their new employer.”

Kepak said it was pleased to announce that, subject to approval, it had agreed the terms with ABP to acquire Silvercrest Foods.

Managing director of Kepak John Horgan said the acquisition would complement Kepak's existing burger and convenience foods business strategy.

He said: "We look forward, subject to Competition Authority approval, to working with the staff at the Ballybay plant and to returning the facility to full production in the coming months."