Pork processor with factory in Ruskington sold to US poultry firm for £290m

Scotch eggs rolling out of the machine at Ruskington's Tulip factory. EMN-190829-155018001
Scotch eggs rolling out of the machine at Ruskington's Tulip factory. EMN-190829-155018001

A major employer in the county with pork product factories in Ruskington, Boston and Spalding has been bought by a US-based poultry firm in a deal worth £290million.

Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has announced it has signed a contract to acquire Tulip Limited, a leading pork product processor in the UK, from Danish Crown.

Tulip Foods. EMN-190829-154237001

Tulip Foods. EMN-190829-154237001

The transaction is said to ‘solidify’ Pilgrim’s as a leading European food company, creating one of the largest integrated prepared foods businesses in the UK with a portfolio of brands and retail private label solutions.

The Ruskington factory employs 450 workers and specialises in snacking products including Scotch eggs, cocktail sausages, mini filled bites and seasonal products. It saw a £2.3m investment announced in a new production line concentrating on niche products.

A spokesman for Tulip said: “Tulip has a high profile in the area and remains committed to the region.”

Two years ago Pilgrim’s Pride bought Moy Park, which has a major poultry processing factory nearby at Anwick, from Brazilian firm JBS in a £1 billion deal.

The cocktail sausage production line at Tulip's Ruskington factory. EMN-190829-154829001

The cocktail sausage production line at Tulip's Ruskington factory. EMN-190829-154829001

Earlier this year over 450 jobs hung in the balance at its Boston site after failing to regain a contract with Marks and Spencers. The firm said it was set close its Boston plant, which employs 464 people, if a new contract could be found.

“We are pleased to strengthen our European foods platform with the acquisition of Tulip Limited, which positions Pilgrim’s as a leading global prepared foods player,” said Jayson Penn, Pilgrim’s global chief executive officer. “The transaction represents the logical next step in our evolution to expand our geographical footprint, enhance our value-added portfolio and reduce volatility across our business.”

He said Tulip’s existing position in the UK food market would solidify Pilgrim’s platform for growth in “the attractive UK market.”

Mr Penn added: “We welcome the talented Tulip Limited team members and management team, led by Andrew Cracknell, to the Pilgrim’s family, and we look forward to working together to drive growth and deliver value for our stakeholders.

“Pilgrim’s is acquiring an industry-leading farming operation, a strong team of dedicated people and a network of well-invested manufacturing sites,” said Andrew Cracknell, CEO of Tulip Limited. “Our companies share a rich heritage in agriculture and food production with aligned values that put people and customers at the heart of all we do. The Tulip Limited leadership team and I look forward to working with our new colleagues to build upon the fantastic progress made within the business and realise our combined growth opportunities as we enter an exciting new phase.”

Tulip is the largest pig producer in the UK, with nearly £1 billion in annual sales and more than 6,000 employees.

Under terms of the agreement, former owners Danish Crown will continue to supply Danish pork to Tulip under a long-term supply agreement.

Pilgrim’s employs more than 51,400 people and operates chicken processing and prepared foods facilities in 14 US states, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the UK and continental Europe. The company’s primary distribution is through retailers and food service distributors.