One of Scotland’s larger vegetable growers and processors, Kettle Produce, dropped into the red last year. The latest accounts for the company, headquartered in Fife and one of the largest suppliers of fresh produce to the UK supermarket trade, show a pre-tax loss of £1.9 million in the year to May 30, 2020. This is down from a pre-tax profit of £2.34 million the year before.
The accounts also show an 8% increase in turnover in the year to £148.7 million, from £137.7 million previously. The bulk of sales, at £147.45 million, were in the UK. Sales to Europe increased by 30% to £1.24 million, from £955,000 the year before.
Kettle Produce company secretary and finance director Liz Waugh said the greater part of the year was dominated by reduced operating margins as a result of competitive pressures. “During the last quarter the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on consumer trends and this in turn provided mixed fortunes for the operating sites. Sales of traditional vegetables were strong as the population adapted to lockdown and homeworking, whilst the converse was true for the convenience meals and hospitality sector. The business sites supplying the former performed well but the demise of the business-to-business adversely affected the remaining sites.”
Kettle grows a range of vegetables including carrot, swede, parsnip, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and spring greens. It also produces prepared vegetable products. The company operates two sites in Fife; one at its base at Balmalcolm Farm, Cupar, and another two miles away at Orkie, and one at Barrowcliffes near Nottingham. It also operates a Spanish division.