Pigmeat exports surge helps Cranswick profits rise

Soaring pigmeat export values have helped Yorkshire meat processor Cranswick post profits of more than £100m for the past financial year.

The pork and poultry processor’s statutory profit before tax, grew by 20.9% to £104m – up from £86.5m in the year to 28 March.

Profit margins were based on revenue of £1.67bn, up 13%, like-for-like on 2019. A key profit driver was a 92% growth in total pigmeat export revenue, based on a 122% hike in sales to the Far East, mainly to China.

Demand for pigmeat from the Chinese market has soared in the wake of mass culling to contain the spread of African swine fever.

See also: 3 ways pig farmer is using data to improve herd performance

The financial year has also seen Cranswick invest a record £101m in capital expenditure, to consolidate the business.

During the 12 months, it acquired two pig farming businesses, Packington Pork and White Rose Farms, along with Mediterranean food products company Katsouris Brothers.

A new primary poultry facility in Eye, Suffolk, was also completed on schedule during the third quarter.

The results to 28 March mean just five days of trading were included, due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Cranswick chief executive officer Adam Couch acknowledged that the business was operating in the most challenging of periods.

“We remain mindful of the uncertainty around the longer-term effects of the Covid-19 crisis and Brexit negotiations.

“Nonetheless, our outlook for the current year is unchanged and we have a solid platform from which to continue Cranswick’s successful long-term development.”

Mr Couch added that the company’s strong financial position and trading had enabled it to continue operating well within banking covenants and without government support.

The financial position has seen shareholders rewarded with statutory earnings per share up 17.4% to 159.1p each.

The company has also rewarded its workers with a £500 bonus to each site-based employee in recognition of their contribution throughout the pandemic.

During the Covid-19 crisis, Cranswick provided food to NHS staff, giving food hampers to the vulnerable people and donated to local charities.

National Pig Association chairman Richard Lister said it was good to see a pig processor doing so well.

“There is no doubt Cranswick has benefited significantly from the strong Chinese demand for UK pork.

“With its retail added-value focus, it is also likely to have seen a further boost in recent weeks from the booming retail demand during lockdown,” Mr Lister said.

“Producers will now be looking forward to seeing those rising profits shared across Cranswick’s production base,” he added.

Cranswick group revenue by sector

Product type  Share of total revenue Revenue growth to 28 March 2020
Fresh pork  34%  22.9%
Poultry  13%  8.6%
Convenience (cooked meats) 36%  10.5%
 Gourmet products (sausage bacon, pastry)  17% 6.5%