Pork producer’s £3m energy-saving drive

Pigs. Photo by Denise Bradley Pigs. Photo by Denise Bradley

Ben Woods Business writer ben.woods@archant.co.uk
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
6:00 AM

Watton-based pork producer Cranswick is investing £3m in refrigeration equipment to make “huge” efficiency savings at its Norfolk factory.

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The EDP Top100 firm wants to shave 18pc off its utility bills by bringing its cooling equipment in line with the “state-of-the-art” slaughtering and packaging facilities at its site on Brandon Road.

The move to boost its green credentials comes as the firm mounted further export growth in the Far East – with sales expanding by 10pc to £50m thanks to an upsurge in demand for premium pork and fifth quarter materials.

Earlier this week the company announced that underlying sales also increased by 12pc to the end of March 31 last year, as its fresh pork, bacon, cooked meats and pastry divisions all recorded strong performances.

Meanwhile, the two pig rearing businesses it snapped up last year – including East Anglian Pigs in Little Melton – were now fully integrated into its operations and supplying 20pc of its meat (about 10,000 pigs).

Adam Couch, chief operating officer at Cranswick, said its Hull and Norfolk factories were vital to the business and had not ruled out further investment.

“The facility at Watton is undergoing a major refurbishment with an expenditure of about £3m,” he said. “The facility itself is state-of-the-art in terms of its slaughter and packaging production, but this extra investment will boost our green credentials and deliver huge efficiency savings.

“Overall, we have had good year,” he added. “It has been a combination of our investment in the last five years that have helped us drive-up sales in a number of categories, including our pastry products division.”

“We are now shipping up to 40 containers a week to the Far East and on top of that we are looking to secure US approval so we can start exporting to the United States from Norfolk.”

The group revealed it had recently extended the term – and increased the size– of its banking facility, leaving the business “in a sound financial position” with committed unsecured facilities of £120m.

But despite significant capital investment and the acquisition of the pig rearing businesses, it expected strong cash generation from its operations would reduce its net debt well below the level it reported at the end of the financial year. Mr Couch added: “The acquisition of East Anglian Pigs has helped us in a whole bunch of areas.

“We now source between 20 and 25pc of our meat from the pig rearing arm of the business, which very important to the Watton factory and the premium pork side of the business.” 
• Do you have an Top100 story for the EDP? Contact business writer Ben Woods on 01603 772426, or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk

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