Watton pork producer Cranswick to capture US market

Cranswick Country Foods in Watton - On the production line. Picture; Matthew Usher. Cranswick Country Foods in Watton - On the production line. Picture; Matthew Usher.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012
6:30 AM

A Norfolk pork supplier hopes to capture a slice of the American market by securing an export licence for its base in Watton.

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Cranswick Country Foods in Watton - On the production line. Picture; Matthew Usher.Cranswick Country Foods in Watton - On the production line. Picture; Matthew Usher.

Cranswick Country Foods wants to apply for a United States Department of Agriculture accreditation, giving it the green light to sell premium Norfolk pork to the US.

It comes months after the former farming minister Jim Paice helped the company secure an export deal with China.

In its interim results released yesterday, the group said the relative price of pork to other meats had helped it to grow its half year underlying turnover 5pc ahead of last year, in the six months to September 30.

It saw total sales 6pc ahead in the same period, helped by the performance of its newly acquired Milton-Keynes-based premium cooked and roast meat producer Kingston Foods.

Cranswick Country Foods in Watton. Picture; Matthew Usher.Cranswick Country Foods in Watton. Picture; Matthew Usher.

But the pork producer, which sells bacon and sausages to supermarkets Sainsburys and Tesco, is currently in talks with its customers about increasing prices after seeing the cost of UK pigs soar.

Speaking about its base in Watton, Cranswick chief executive Adam Couch said: “We have invested significantly at our factory in Norfolk and we want to keep the facility as long as the supply chain is there.

“We would like to acquire a USDA licence so our pork cuts can go to America. We are considering that investment as a real option going forward.”

Mr Couch said that the rise in prices for retailers had come as a knock-on effect from the higher cost of animal feed.

He added: “What is really important in times such as these is that everyone in the supply chain takes some responsibility.

“We have to make sure that we fight our corner against some of the EU volume players, while keeping an eye on the EU pig welfare reforms coming in 2013.”

The group, which has a factory in Hull and supplies to the Jamie Oliver brand, currently employs 1,100 staff and recently invested £12.7m in a new processing plant, innovative meat-processing equipment and environmental equipment.

This year, the company won the Food and Farming excellence award at the EDP Business Awards 2012, beating finalists Aylsham-based Dewing Grain, and Sands Agricultural Machinery of Stalham.

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