A CATERING supplier is continuing to expand as it plans to become a one-stop-shop for fresh produce in Cumbria.

Caterite Food and Wineservice, based in Embleton, near Cockermouth, has bought Highgate Meats, of Troutbeck, run by Peter Smith.

Caterite group managing director Lorcan Byrne said the two companies had worked side by side for many years, supplying produce to the county's hospitality industry.

It is the latest acquisition for Caterite, which bought fruit and vegetable specialists Four Seasons Foods, of Threlkeld, in 2014 and James Fruit and Vegetables, of Penrith, in 2017.

Last year, its new venture Caterprep, which supplies ready prepared vegetables for kitchens, was shortlisted in the Best New Business category of the in-Cumbria Business Awards, while Caterite won the award for Best Large Business.

It employs over 100 people and supplies goods throughout Cumbria, southern Scotland and Lancashire.

Mr Byrne said the latest acquisition would help Caterite - which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year - establish a reputation as a purveyor of high quality fresh produce of all kinds, no matter whether it was meat, fruit or vegetables.

"We really want to focus on developing our fresh meat offer," he said.

"We really want to place ourselves as being the fresh food provider for the hospitality sector in Cumbria. There is a lot of crossover with customers. Peter has a fantastic reputation in the local area and it will bring a lot of strength to our fresh meat offering."

Caterite is developing a new fresh meat processing facility at its base in Embleton, including dry ageing fridges, a new sausage production area and an enhanced butchery cutting room.

Highgate Meats will continue operating from Troutbeck until March when it is expected to be completed.

All of its nine current staff will then relocate to Embleton. Mr Smith will continue to oversee the team.

Mr Byrne said: "Historically, customers have gone to suppliers who are either a specialist in meat or vegetables. We have now got the expertise in both."