Bullish approach to exports reaps rewards for meat firm

Nick Allen, Sector Director for Eblex, Kevin Burrows of C & K Meats of Eye, Ed Bedington editor of M

Nick Allen, Sector Director for Eblex, Kevin Burrows of C & K Meats of Eye, Ed Bedington editor of Meat Trades Journal. - Credit: Archant

A determined and direct approach to building export links has raised the turnover at a family-run meat firm near Diss – and secured the company an industry accolade.

C and K Meats of Eye, which has built its own abattoir and cutting plant in recent years, has built up its overseas trade from a standing start two years ago. Exports now account for about a tenth of the firm's £18m turnover.

Kevin Burrows, who runs the company, which now employs 92 staff, with his brother Chris, said: 'I don't take no for an answer. I took 30 flights to Asia last year. All the export sales are done by myself. We have now opened up routes to Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand, Macau in China is opening up.'

This year, Mr Burrows will travel to Japan, Taiwan and Thailand with the aim of further growth in the firm's beef, pork and lamb business. The company already exports to Europe and has ambitions to open up trade with the USA and Greece.

He said he is 'ecstatic' about how the trade has grown and praised UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), whose advisers help UK firms to sell their products abroad.

Mr Burrows said his company aims at the top end of the market and fine dining rather than bulk buyers.

'We only single out those who deal with high-end users,' he said. 'The commodity work we don't really go after. It's all about fine dining for us. If they are high end, they are not so concerned about price so we can support our suppliers.'

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Mr Burrows said the firm could offer 'integrity and transparency' in their supply chain by buying directly from farms.

'We slaughter, we process, then we export so there's very few hands in the chain,' he said. 'They (the customers) want that transparency and security of the product.'

The firm won the Exporter of the Year category at the recent Meat and Poultry Processing Awards. The judges said: 'Investing in a new plant while facing into the teeth of the recession, C and K Meat's bravery has paid off and in just four and a half years, the company has hit maximum capacity with exports playing a key part in that business growth.'