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North-east livestock feed company celebrates 50 years in business and puts focus on the future

Norvite is a leading specialist in animal nutrition.

Original staff of Norvite standing by tractor.
Norvite has been a leading supplier of supplements and feeds to the Scottish livestock industry for almost 50 years.

Norvite is one of Scotland’s leading animal feed companies, with a well-earned reputation for quality and technical innovation in the livestock feed industry, and this year has been celebrating 50 years in business.

Decades of innovation to meet an ever-changing industry

Founded in 1973 by Gilbert Reid, Roy Mathieson and Alistair Pirie as Norvite Feed Supplements, the company was established at Wardhouse, near Insch, where it remains headquartered today. They built up a thriving business supplying supplements and protein concentrates to farms throughout Scotland and building strong relationships with their customers.

Norvite was sold in 1995 to SCA Nutrition, which was in turn bought over in the same year by the multi-national Dutch company, Provimi (now part of Cargill) which at the time owned 20 agricultural supply companies in 40 countries.  Edward Smith, who had worked with Provimi at Norvite and at their UK Head Office since 1998, was tasked with the rationalisation of the company’s business in Scotland but argued that the Norvite business, because of its situation in North-East Scotland and strong brand, should remain as a separate entity. He was subsequently successful in leading a management buyout in 2005, with Mr Pirie staying on to become a mainstay of the company for many more years, working on to the age of 83 after more than one retirement party!

The trend for long-serving staff at Norvite is something that continues today, including staff who have worked with the company since 1976. Edward Smith, managing director, said, “At the heart of our business, our people are our most valuable resource, and we are incredibly privileged to still have some of our original workforce working with us as well as several who have carved out their entire careers within the company. From our production staff to the customer-facing teams to our admin support, the Norvite “family” is a special one which esteems its place within the agricultural community.

With feed manufacturing plants in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire, Norvite was one of the first companies in the UK to introduce feed blending.  In another innovative move, it was amongst the first to adopt the new generation of high-tech mobile feed mills when they became available in the early 2000s, as well as investing an additional £1 million to upgrade one of the UK’s very few multi-species (ruminant and monogastric) mineral manufacturing plants. This major investment in 2012 in the state-of-the-art plant to make the core business of mineral supplement production as efficient as possible and a cumulative investment of several million pounds over the years has ensured that this remains cutting-edge technology – a prime example of Norvite’s commitment to local manufacturing.

As well as the very successful feed business, the company runs three Norvite Farm & Country retail stores at Insch, Oldmeldrum and Aboyne, each open seven days to remain accessible for all. These stores have grown from strength to strength, developing from the first store at Wardhouse which opened soon after the MBO with relatively bare shelves to what is now a very well stocked, thriving enterprise with a huge choice of livestock and companion animal feeds alongside leisure and lifestyle apparel, country and equestrian accessories.

The most recent acquisition for Norvite has been the purchase of Julian McHardy’s Royal Deeside-based Trustach Shooting Supplies, exclusive distributors throughout the UK of top-of-the-range Caledonian cartridges.  This is a good fit with Norvite’s retail business which includes ranges of quality country supplies popular with customers interested in outdoor pursuits including shooting, fishing, horse riding and much more.

The company’s 50th anniversary was marked by the planting of 50 trees on an unused area of land at its head office. The first tree, an oak to represent the communities Norvite supports, was planted by Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, Joanna, Lady Aberdeen as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy, a lasting legacy in memory of the late Queen whose Royal Warrant Norvite has been very proud to hold. A large turnout of staff formed an enthusiastic team to plant the anniversary woodland of broadleaves, which also includes three oaks to represent Norvite’s three founding directors and four oaks planted by each of the current directors.

The company is constantly looking to the future – on its 40th anniversary, in conjunction with Scotland’s rural college SRUC, Norvite established a scholarship for an honours student to carry out a novel research project of value to the industry. Working closely with the Technical Team to provide commercial direction to this academic work, the Norvite Scholarship is a recognised part of the annual academic calendar and there is keen competition for the project, such that in some years two scholars have been supported.

The first 50 years of Norvite have seen a remarkable success story from humble beginnings in 1973 to the large thriving business it is today, with a strong technical base and a range of innovative products to meet the requirements of an ever-changing livestock industry.

Learn more about Norvite today.