Cranswick plc has reported an 11.4% rise in adjusted pre-tax profits for the six months to September 30, 2014, backed by the positive comment that “fresh pork business lost earlier in the year is now being recovered”.
“The overall performance of the business during the first half of the year has been in line with the Board’s expectations,” said Cranswick chairman, Martin Davey, pointing out that the company’s six-month sales figure of £481.5 million was “comparable to that recorded in the same period a year ago”.
“The underlying feature was one of strong sales growth across most product categories, coupled with a reduction in fresh pork sales. The latter was a result of business lost earlier in the year which is now being recovered.”
Commenting further on the company’s pigmeat performance, he said the versatility and value credentials of pigmeat in its various forms continued to prove popular with consumers, whose increased focus on British meat had seen a greater proportion of the Group’s own pigs being utilised internally. This, he added, was delivering the benefits envisaged when the strategic decision was made by Cranswick to return to pig production with investment in the company’s own herds.
Further details on this were subsequently covered in the company’s operating review, which is also published today, alongside the interim financial results.
“Following substantial investment in the group’s pig breeding and rearing activities during the previous financial year, the focus has been on improving the quality of the herd and the performance of the breeding, rearing and finishing units,” it was stated. “There is now capacity to service in excess of 20% of the group’s overall British pig requirements and there will be ongoing investment to further improve productivity and efficiencies.”
It was also revealed that the company is “exploring several options” to enhance the competitiveness of its pig operations, relative to the most efficient European producers. Exports to Europe during the last six months were lower than in the same period last year, as more product was sold into the UK market where prices were more attractive.
Exports to the rest of the world, meanwhile, including Far Eastern markets were 24% ahead of the same period last year, with the business continuing to make “positive progress” in developing its export trade. As a result, the business is now exporting to a number of countries in the Far East and has recently sent shipments to West Africa and Australia. In fact, one third of the tonnage being processed through the group’s two primary processing facilities is being shipped overseas each week.
The report also included a brief mention of the major upgrade to the company’s Norfolk fresh pork site, which was reported to be nearing completion, and set to deliver significant benefits in terms of energy efficiency, improved yields and throughput speed.