Chinese appetite for ‘fifth quarter’ cuts of pork drive exports for Cranswick

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

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

An insatiable appetite for 'fifth quarter' cuts of meat in the Far East and long-term low pig prices have driven volumes at pork giant Cranswick.

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

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

The EDP Top 100 firm, which employs almost 1,000 people at its Watton factory, said full-year sales were 12pc higher than last year for the period ending March 31.

It comes as a rise in exports to China has been felt across the industry, thanks to a demand for fifth quarter cuts of meat - which includes offal and other extremities unpopular in the UK market.

Finance director Mark Bottomley said the Hull-based business, founded in 1972, had invested a lot of 'time and energy' in China to build relationships with its customers.

'What the Chinese are looking for is food safety,' he said. 'They know the Cranswick products reflect that.'

The level of goods, which are frozen and shipped to the Far East in containers, had not been affected by market uncertainty in China, he said.

He added: 'In the UK, the annual slaughtered number of pigs is about 10 million, in Germany it is about 60 million and in North America it is 160 million.

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'China is well north of half a billion and consumes more pigs and pork than the rest of the world put together.'

The positive trading update comes as the firm saw revenues reach the £1bn mark for the first time for the year ending March 31 2015, up from £995m the year before.

Statutory pre-tax profits fell 3.5pc to £52.8m. Excluding a number of accounting charges, they were ahead 10.6pc to £57.8m on an adjusted basis.

Late last year the group also announced £6m of investment at its Norfolk plant, to upgrade its production line in a bid to meet strict United States Department of Agriculture regulations – and boost exports to the US.

Underlying revenue in both the current and prior financial years excluded the contribution from Benson Park before October 22 and sales from the pig breeding, rearing and trading activities.

The group said it had invested £30m across the company over the last year, and expected to continue this through the current year.

Full-year results will be reported in May.

Are you celebrating record revenues? Call Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

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