Pork producer Cranswick reports sizzling half-year results due to bacon and sausage sales

Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick Country Foods, Picture submitted.

Adam Couch, chief executive of Cranswick Country Foods, Picture submitted. - Credit: Archant

A lift in fresh pork sales, a 21pc boost to bacon sales and a growth in exports have helped pork producer Cranswick report strong first-half results.

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 firm, which employs more than 1,000 people in Watton, said turnover was ahead at 9.9pc to the six months to September 30 and adjusted pre-tax profits were up by 22pc to £31.5m.

Chief executive Adam Couch thanked ambitious investment in production and a growth in demand for premium products for a turnover of £529.1m in the same period, compared to £481.5m in 2014.

A positive contribution from Hull-based poultry business Benson Park, which Cranswick bought in October last year also added to the increase.

'Positioning ourselves at the premium end of the market resonates with the consumer,' said Mr Couch. 'We have increased our position within pork and sausages.'

Adding value with air dried bacon helped drive bacon sales by 21pc year on year - growing the firm's market share.

And the EDP Top 100 firms saw exports grow by 18pc year on year during the first half, with strong progress in the Far East, where sales grew by 31pc.

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Mr Couch said increased government regulations in the region had reduced pig volumes, leaving Europe - including the UK - to fill the gap.

But in light of the new National Living Wage, of £7.20 per hour outside of London, Mr Couch said it would be naive to say it would not have an affect on food prices when it was introduced in April next year.

'The National Living Wage will increase prices for the economy as a whole,' he added.

The firm recently launched £6m of investment in Norfolk in order to gain US Department for Agriculture accreditation. The move is expected to increase volume, and will be complete by September next year.

In its report, the firm said pig prices remained relatively stable during the six months to September 30 compared to a volatile previous three years.

The UK pig price fell 2pc during the period and was on average 18pc lower than during the same period last year.

The firm said despite this reduction, the UK price remained about 30pc higher than its European equivalent, reflecting ongoing high demand for British pig meat.

Chairman Martin Davey said thanks to a broadening range of products and an expected strong Christmas trading period, the company was well placed to deliver further growth in its financial year.

Is your firm expecting a record year? Call Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk