Hilton posts growth amid plans to expand plant-based production

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pictured: Hilton's plant-based ranged available at Tesco, Wicked
Pictured: Hilton's plant-based ranged available at Tesco, Wicked

Related tags: Meat & Seafood, plant-based

Meat processor Hilton Food Group posted a healthy set of half year results, as it continues to diversify into plant-based proteins and expand its manufacturing capabilities.

The meat processor reported a 32.1% constant currency growth in sales in the 28 weeks to 18 July 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 – £1.71bn. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation grew 27.3% (constant currency) to £63.9m.

Philip Heffer, Hilton chief executive, said the growth was underpinned the strength of its Australian business, as well as organic growth achieved across its portfolio in meat, seafood, plant-based and vegetarian foods.

“This continuing growth shows resilience of our business model and our ability to create sustainable value by working dedicated partnerships with both our customers and suppliers,”​ said Heffer.

“In our meat business, we’ve continued to see consumer demand for our products grow internationally and we’ve continued to grow and diversify our offer during the first half of this year.”

Diversification in plant-based

Hilton continued its diversification into plant-based proteins with the complete acquisition of Dutch vegan and vegetarian food firm Dalco Foods, subject to competition clearance.

Heffer said the business would continue to adapt and respond to the changing tastes and needs of its consumers, with both meat and alternative proteins playing and equal role in Hilton’s future growth plans.

“We’ve obviously seen lots of growth, particularly within vegan and vegetarian, but during COVID we’ve seen a lot of growth in meat as well as fish,”​ he explained.

“We are very happy to diversify across the protein and looking to become the global protein partners of choice for all of our customers.”

To support its growing plant-based offering, Hilton planned to invest in its Dutch business to increase the capacity and expand the capability of the products it produces.

Investment opportunities

“We do have facilities in the UK and we will be looking to expand those as and when necessary, but our centre of excellence will be based in Holland,”​ Heffer added.

The strong set of results posted by Hilton were in spite of continued difficulties being felt across the food and drink manufacturing industry – not least the ongoing fall out of COVID, as well as skills and labour shortages.

However, Heffer was confident that Hilton has tackled these issues well and will continue to do so into the future.

“We do have a very loyal workforce across our UK businesses – obviously in the UK it’s more difficult than it is in Europe at the present time, as we’ve got a mix of both COVID and Brexit,” ​he said. “It’s very tight, there’s no question, but we’ve got a lot of different initiatives that we’re running to retain people and recruit people.

“We are competitive on our rates, so I think we’re doing everything that we can. We are seeing a slight improvement in the last couple of weeks, so I’m hoping that will continue, but it is difficult for everybody – we’re no different than any other manufacturers.”

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