Belgium group announces divestiture of Greenyard Fresh UK over the coming months

Greenyard, a global market leader in fresh, frozen and prepared fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants, is to sell its UK fresh produce business.

The Belgium-headquartered group revealed on Wednesday (15 June) that it is to divest its Greenyard Fresh UK import and supply operations based in Spalding, Lincolnshire, due to stiff competition and Brexit pressure.

Announcing the move in its 2021/22 full-year results, the Greenyard Group said: “With regards to its fresh business in the UK, Greenyard sees insufficient room for standalone profitable growth in a mature market that is also under pressure from Brexit and supply chain disruptions. Therefore, Greenyard has decided to divest its UK Fresh operations in the coming months.”

Confirming the news, Greenyard Fresh UK Ltd managing director Giles Armstrong told FPJ: “This means that Greenyard will not invest further in its Fresh entity in the UK but is looking at a variety of options to divest its operation.”

Greenyard Fresh UK is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Sint-Katelijne-Waver-based Greenyard group and specialises in supplying UK and imported produce, including stonefruit, topfruit, tropical fruit, avocados, grapes, melons, citrus and vegetables to the UK retail and wholesale market.

The Spalding operation employs 220 full-time staff and includes ripening and grading facilities.

“We are looking for the divesting process to be realised in the coming months,” Armstrong said. “In the meantime, we are assuring our customers that all operations will continue as normal during this process.”

Greenyard Group co-CEO Marc Zwaaneveld told Fresh Plaza that the UK fresh produce business records some €70 million in sales, less than one per cent of the entire market. “We’ve generally found that stand-alone profitable growth there takes time,” he said.

“Perhaps it would be possible in the future, but we’ve decided to divest our fresh produce business in the UK in the coming months. Brexit is putting pressure on our market, and disrupts supply chains. There’s, thus, not enough room for us. We’ll begin focusing our efforts on continental Europe, where we can work with these integrated customer relationships.”

However, he added that Greenyard will remain fully committed to the UK frozen food sector, where the company has a leading position.

The Greenyard group’s announcement comes a year after divesting its stake in British fruit supplier Bardsley England and in a financial year when it announced increased sales and profits.

Greenyard reiterated its goal for its sales to reach the €5 billion mark by 2025, and €200-210 million in adjusted EBITDA by March 2025.