ONE of the UK’s largest independent dairies, Meadow Foods, increased its pre-tax profits to £25.6m in the year to March 31 last year, up from £22m in 2018.

The business, which has around 650 farmer suppliers, including some from Cumbria, also increased its turnover from £427m to £456m.

A statement from Meadow Foods said the growth was achieved by expanding its portfolio of food ingredients, including its acquisition of Roil Foods, a business manufacturing edible dairy-based oils. Earnings from liquid milk sales were steady year on year.

The business invested £6.8m to improve efficiency and increase capacity, and had committed another £8m for capital expenditure in the year ending March 31 2020.

Mark Chantler, chief executive, said it was a positive set of results, achieved in a challenging marketplace. “Our growth is primarily a result of an expanded product portfolio, targeted acquisitions and improved efficiencies. This strategy for growth will continue and is reflected in our recent acquisition of Nimbus Foods, which has allowed us to further diversify our portfolio and cement our position as a leading supplier of value-added ingredients.”

Meadow Foods has three processing sites across the UK and supplies more than 100,000 tonnes of dairy ingredients every year to food manufacturers and food service customers. The product range includes sweetened condensed milk, chocolate crumb, butter oil, soft cheese, and yoghurt.

Meadow Foods hit the headlines in July 2019 when it emerged that it had served 12 months’ notice on an unspecified number of its farmer suppliers, claiming they did not fit with their strategy.