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Kettle Produce turns loss into profit amid rain

FIFE-based vegetable supplier Kettle Produce has overcome the effects of heavy rainfall in 2012 to turn an operating loss in excess of £500,000 into a profit of £1.2 million in its latest financial year.

The company, which grows and packs fresh vegetables, green vegetables and salad crops for supermarkets, saw operations affected by low light and rainfall peaking at 173% of normal levels between June and August 2012.

It said the adverse conditions, which followed similarly poor weather the year before, had it forced to buy produce from overseas in order to fulfil its contracts.

In spite of the challenges, Kettle hiked profits and drove turnover by 7% to £101.4m, with its balance sheet benefiting from its decision to delay investment in new machinery.

Finance director Liz Waugh said: "The summer of 2012 has already gone down as one of the wettest, dullest and coolest in living memory and that had a significant impact on the availability of produce.

"Crop growth in the UK was extremely poor and yields were down across the whole country, by up to 40% in some areas.

"With crop availability down and operating costs up, we had to contain our costs.

"A planned programme of machinery replacement at our sites was put on hold to bolster our bottom line.

"In the face of these challenges, it is pleasing that we have been able to deliver strong numbers."

Kettle Produce has nearly 800 staff at its sites in Orkie, near Freuchie, and Balmalcolm by Cupar, making it one of the biggest employers in Fife.

The company, created by two Scottish farming families in the 1970s, has an annual output of 100,000 tonnes of fresh root vegetables, green vegetables and salad crops.

Kettle moved into a state-of-the-art facility at Orkie over the period covered by its accounts for the year ended June 2, 2012.

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