Demand for vegan and vegetarian meals boosts Hilton Food sales as meatless products sales jump by more than a quarter in just two years
- Hilton Food raked in revenues of £3.3bn last year, an increase of 22%
- Vegan and vegetarian food volumes jumped 26% over the past two years
- The quantity of meat and fish sold rose by half of that – or 13% compared to 2019
Fast-growing demand for vegan and vegetarian products has helped lift sales at food packing business Hilton Food.
The company processes, packs and distributes meat, fish and other protein products to UK and international supermarkets, including Tesco.
It raked in revenues to £3.3billion last year, an increase of 22 per cent compared to 2020, with two-thirds of it coming from outside the UK.
In demand: Hilton is cashing in on soaring demand for meatless protein foods
This growth was the result of strong performance across all protein products, with vegan and vegetarian food volumes jumping 26 per cent in just two years.
The quantity of meat and fish sold rose by half of that – or 13 per cent – while premium ready-made meals sales volumes jumped by 36 per cent since 2019.
But pre-tax profit fell 12 per cent to £47.4million due to £8.2million exceptional costs relating to its recent acquisitions and a fire which destroyed its Belgian factory. Adjusted pre-tax profit actually rose 13 per cent to £67.2million.
The upbeat performance comes as Hilton pushed ahead with acquisitions to expand both its meat and non-meat business in 2021.
In October last year, it bought the remaining 50 per cent of Dalco, a producer of vegetarian and vegan proteins based in the Netherlands.
It also acquired Fairfax Meadow Europe, a London-based catering butcher, and Foppen, a Dutch salmon producer that gave it access to the US market for the first time.
Despite continued disruption to global supply chains and rising inflation, Hilton remained upbeat and said it was continuing to look at other possible acquisitions.
‘We continue to explore opportunities with existing and new customers for further expansion in our domestic and overseas markets,’ the group said.
Hilton now makes more than two-thirds of its revenue, and three-quarters of its volume, outside of the UK.
Its international reach leaves it well placed to ‘create long-term sustainable value’ despite persisting ‘market headwinds’, according to the company’s boss, Philip Heffer.
‘We want to offer all the proteins people want to put on their plates, in home and out of home, not just in Europe and Asia, but in North America too,’ he said.
‘The acquisitions we have made over the past year will accelerate this.’
In line with this optimism, the board declared a final dividend of 21.5p, taking the total dividend for 2021 to 29.7p.
Hilton bought a Dutch salmon producer that gave it access to the US market for the first time
Despite the upbeat results, Hilton Food shares fell 3.3 per cent to £11.82 in afternoon trading.
Sara Welford, director at Edison Group, commented: ‘With a diversified product portfolio, and a recent growth in revenue from outside the UK, the group is in a good position to achieve sustainable levels of growth going forward.
‘However, with retail markets still fragile and an increase in packaging and shipment costs, Hilton Foods still faces a challenging year ahead.’
Alongside the results, the company announced that its finance boss, Nigel Majewski, is to stand down after 15 years in the job.
Majewski will stay in the company, but will take up the role as Director of Investor Relations and Strategic Development.