2 UK shares to buy right now

Entrepreneur on the phone.

I think two of the best UK shares to buy right now are Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE) and Cranswick (LSE: CWK). 

There is a simple reason why I would buy both of these stocks for my portfolio today. In an uncertain world, one thing is certain, that is the fact that humans will always need to eat. Tate and Cranswick both produce and supply food products.

As such, I think these are some of the most defensive UK shares on the market right now. 

Further, it looks as if both firms offer an attractive package of income and growth. 

Defensive UK shares 

Tate is one of the UK’s oldest listed companies. It is currently overhauling its business model for the next stage of growth. 

The group recently announced that it would be splitting itself in two by selling part of its business. 

The so-called NewCo will take over the firm’s plant-based products for the food and industrial markets. Meanwhile, the legacy Tate business will remain a global food, and beverage solutions operation focused on faster-growing speciality markets. 

Management believes that by refocusing the business, the company will be better positioned to capitalise on consumer demand for healthier food and drink, which the global pandemic has accelerated.

As part of this deal, Tate will receive £0.9bn from the sale of its interest in the NewCo. Of this, management has earmarked £500m that will be returned to investors. The firm will use the rest to pay down debt and fund growth initiatives. 

One of the best shares to buy now 

Cranswick is also revisiting its business model as it looks to the future. The company, which produces a range of predominantly fresh food products, has been investing to increase output and improve its ESG credentials.

Last year, the company spent £72m on new production facilities, including £25m on a breaded pouy facility in Hull and a £20m cooked bacon facility. 

In addition, nine of its sites have achieved carbon neutral certification. It also retained its Tier One status in the global Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare for the fifth consecutive year. 

These are the main reasons why I believe these are some of the best UK shares to buy right now. Not only are the two companies investing for the future, but they are also focusing on some of the most central growth themes around right now. These include the rising demand for healthy, high-quality food with a low carbon footprint. 

That said, both organisations do face some enormous challenges. Food production is highly specialised and regulated. If either firm is found to be compromising on quality, reputations could take a huge hit. 

Further, the industry is incredibly competitive. Just because Cranswick and Tate have succeeded so far does not mean that they will continue to do so. 

Still, despite these risks, I would buy both stocks for my portfolio today. As well as their growth potential, both stocks offer an attractive level of income. Shares in Cranswick currently yield 1.8%, while Tate yields 4.2%, excluding the potential special dividend. 

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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.