THE future for Invercargill-based Back Country Foods and its freeze-dried trampers’ and hunters’ food is bright, with a change of ownership signalling expansion plans and a new, enlarged factory.
From fewer than five employees making fewer than 500 packet meals a day in 1998, the company, best known for its Back Country Cuisine brand, now employs 21 people and its daily output is up to 7000 meals.
Back Country Food has been sold to Invercargill-based family business George Wilson Group, by Southland private equity fund Invest South.
Back Country Foods general manager John McGrath said the Invercargill operation was at present “pretty much operating to capacity”.
“This is an exciting time for us, with the George Wilson [Group] looking to build a new factory and expand… yes, they’re committed to staying in Invercargill,” Mr McGrath said.
He said Invest South, coupled with earlier private joint-venture partners, had been critical in enabling Back Country to become a leader in the freeze-dried food market.
While there was “growing competition” in the freeze-dried meals market, Mr McGrath was confident Back Country was a “market leader”.
George Wilson Group is a long-established Invercargill-based family business with more than 65 years’ experience in engineering, farm machinery, and more recently, campervan hire.
Group director Murray Wilson said Back Country presented a “powerful new opportunity” to diversify its Southland operations by growing an already successful business.
“We’re very excited about the potential of Back Country Foods, a strong and profitable business with a high-value brand that is extremely well positioned for growth and expansion into new markets,” Mr Wilson said.