Bernard Matthews buys NZ lamb supplier

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BERNARD Matthews has bought Advanced Foods, a lamb producer, from the New Zealand Meat Board in the country's privatisation programme.

This is the third acquisition Matthews has made in just over a year, primarily to build overseas sales.

Advanced Foods has been the supplier of meat to Matthews for its patented lamb roasts since 1985. One reason for the acquisition was to secure the source of supply after the New Zealand government told the meat board to dispose of its corporate holdings. The company believes it can develop other lamb products. Half of Advanced Foods' turnover also goes to the US, Canada and Japan where Bernard Matthews has not traded so far.

In December Matthews bought Turners Turkeys from Unigate, bringing extra production capacity and sales to other EU countries, which account for half of Turners' turnover.

In March 1993, the company bought 90 per cent of Sarvari Baromfiipari, Hungary's leading poultry company, in the Hungarian privatisation programme. Part of its appeal lay in the fact that Bernard Matthews, chairman, had helped to establish the poultry industry in several Eastern European countries, including Hungary, in the early 1960s. The business also exports 80 per cent of its output, mainly to Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Germany.

David Joll, managing director, said: 'The key is expanding our customer base as well as our product range.'

Matthews did not disclose the price paid for Advanced Foods, but said its net asset value on 31 December was pounds 3.9m.