Chicken entrepreneur operating across Suffolk and Norfolk donates 1m meals to poor

Ranjit Singh Boparan, inset, and some of the team at 2 Sisters in Thetford <i>(Image: 2 Sisters)</i>
Ranjit Singh Boparan, inset, and some of the team at 2 Sisters in Thetford (Image: 2 Sisters)

The boss of a UK poultry company with major operations across Suffolk and Norfolk has decided to donate five million portions to a food charity.

Ranjit Singh Boparan said he felt firms had a "moral responsibility" to do something about millions of people going hungry in the UK.

The entrepreneur - known as "the chicken king" - employs thousands of people in East Anglia through his companies.

A total of 3,502 are employed at his food factories - with 633 at the Bernard Matthews plant at Holton, near Halesworth, a further 1,020 at 2 Sisters Food Group in Thetford and another 695 at that company's Flixton operations.

East Anglian Daily Times:
East Anglian Daily Times:

He also employs 748 staff at Banham Poultry in Attleborough and 406 at Shazans in Eye.

In addition, Mr Boparan operates 60 farms spread across Norfolk and Suffolk – about two thirds of which rear chicken and one third turkey. Each of these employs up to four or five workers.

The Thetford chicken production facility has been co-ordinating hundreds of thousands of deliveries during May with the help of staff and supply chain partners.

The 420g portions will go to charity Fareshare - with one million alone heading out during the month of May.

Mr Boparan was responding to new food insecurity data which suggests millions of people – including one in five families with children – have gone hungry or skipped meals in recent weeks because they could not regularly afford to buy groceries.

According to the latest Food Foundation tracker, 15% of UK households – equivalent to approximately eight million adults and three million children – have experienced food insecurity in 2024, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to hit the pockets of low-income families. It is estimated this figure has doubled in the last three years.

“We have a moral responsibility to do the right thing," said Mr Boparan.

East Anglian Daily Times:
East Anglian Daily Times:

"It cannot be right that in the UK in 2024 people are struggling to feed themselves. No-one should go to sleep on an empty stomach at night, especially not children.

“I have previously committed to supporting the King’s Coronation Food Project and in partnership with M&S, we are working to boost Fareshare’s distribution efforts.  However, I do feel it is time for individual companies who make food to step up and help alleviate this problem.

“This also requires a big effort from our supply chain and it’s fantastic to see so much goodwill and support. Without the support of companies like Magnavale who are storing these products for us, this entire distribution effort wouldn’t be possible.”

East Anglian Daily Times:
East Anglian Daily Times:

In November, Mr Boparan met the King to support of his Coronation Food Project. He made pre-Christmas donation of one million portions donated in partnership with M&S.

The Coronation Food Project, in collaboration with the IGD, encourages major supermarkets and food manufacturers to join FareShare's "Alliance Manufacturing" programme to redistribute even more surplus food to charities nationwide.

Mr Boparan’s food production empire spans a variety of products ranging from pies, pizzas, chicken, ready meals and turkey to biscuits.

He is now pursuing a donation target of five million equivalent portions annually.

These donations will be through a combined effort with retail partner M&S, which will donate more than one million portions.

The remaining four million will be food donated using surplus products and leveraging critical support from across the supply chain.

During May, workers at his breaded chicken facility in Thetford stepped up to the challenge and donated one million portions to FareShare.

The food includes co-branded products such as coated chicken steaks, coated chicken mini fillet tenders, coated boneless chicken pieces and coated bone-in chicken portions.

Thetford site director Rafal Mrozik said: “The team at Thetford is delighted to be able to produce and pack good quality food for FareShare.

"This initiative helps us play our part in tackling food poverty through the great work that FareShare does and is something that we are all very proud to be part of.”

Fareshare chief executive George Wright, said they were "thrilled to see Ranjit leading the way" in donating surplus food.

"As FareShare enters its 30th year it is important that we look ahead to the future of tackling food waste. We want to work collaboratively to innovate and find ways to make sure more good-to-eat food gets to people who need it, rather than to waste.

“By securing the support of partners in the supply chain to donate the equivalent of a million portions of chicken, Ranjit Singh Boparan is setting a great example to businesses across the food and manufacturing industries to share resources to help unlock the social and environmental impact of surplus food.

“Working together will help us combat the environmental impact of food waste and help the 8,500 charities we support strengthen communities up and down the country.”