Tipperary company Ribworld has been bought by a major UK food group.
The Fethard-based pork and bacon processors have been taken over by the UK-based Karro operation, Eight Fifty Food Group.
Ribworld is part of the M&M Walshe group that also has plants in Kilkenny and the UK.
The Irish Farmers Association has said that it looking for a meeting with management following the sale.
M&M Walshe trades as RibWorld, Callan Bacon and Stirchley Bacon, and is a processor and multi-channel supplier of gammon, bacon and sous-vide meat products.
The business employs around 550 people across its three sites located in Fethard and Kilkenny and Redditch in the UK.
The business will be integrated into Eight Fifty’s pork division, with M&M Walshe’s sous-vide products complementing Eight Fifty’s existing customer offering.
The Walshe family, who have operated M&M Walshe since its foundation in 1981, are reported to be remaining involved with the business following the transaction.
Di Walker, group chief executive of Eight Fifty Food Group, said:
Eight Fifty have been working with the Walshe and Clohessy families for over 30 years and have seen their business grow significantly to become one of Europe’s largest sous-vide specialists today.
“We’re delighted to welcome M&M Walshe into the Eight Fifty Food Group and look forward to continue growing with them.”
John Walshe, on behalf of M&M Walshe, added:
“The interest shown in our business is a great reflection of the quality of our products, our people and our loyal customer base.
“We look forward to working with Di Walker and the Eight Fifty team and seeing the business flourish under new ownership.”
Announcinig an €8m investment in Ribword in 2014 to create 100 new jobs, Employment Minister Richard Bruton described the expansion as a great boost for Munster and a great example of what can be achieved by Irish food and manufacturing businesses across the country.
Speaking at the expansion announcement, John Walshe, Managing Director, Ribworld, said:
‘We purchased Ribworld in 2011. Over the past three years we have grown the business by over 200% and launched a number of new products.
“It is now a truly international business, selling into such diverse markets as Finland and Thailand.
‘This new facility will allow Ribworld to continue to expand into new markets and develop a new range of products. It is a massive investment for us but we have every confidence that it will be a catalyst for a major expansion of our food group’.
Welcoming the announcement Michael Cantwell, Enterprise Ireland Manager Food Division, said:
‘The creation of 100 new jobs at Ribworld is a great boost for Tipperary. Their success underpins Ireland’s standing as a leader in the international food industry.
Enterprise Ireland has worked closely with Ribworld in supporting its strategic investment and growth plans, and we look forward to continuing to support this ambitious company as they implement their exciting growth plans, sustaining and creating jobs in Ireland’.
Following the change of ownership of both Callan Bacon and RibWorld, IFA Pigs chairman Tom Hogan said he will be looking to meet with management regarding support for pig farmers, and the processing sector here.
Mr Hogan said there is an important secondary processing industry in Ireland that exports significant volumes to many retail and food service markets, most notably to the UK.
With Brexit still a looming threat over food export business, it’s important that free trade between Ireland and the UK is maintained without any barriers, he said.
Mr Hogan said IFA will not allow the domestic market to be undermined with imported pigmeat that is not produced to the same standards as our own Bord Bia Quality Assured product.