SPECULATION is mounting that upmarket sausage maker Cranswick will make a bid for Vion’s bacon plant in Malton, North Yorkshire.
Vion UK’s Dutch owners put the UK meat empire up for sale last week following its decision to focus on the Netherlands and Germany.
When asked whether Cranswick will make a bid for the Malton plant, chief executive Adam Couch said: “We’re keeping a watchful eye on it. We’re always looking for acquisitions and there are a number of opportunities.”
Vion’s decision to pull out of the UK has raised fears for the 1,572 staff employed at the Malton plant.
A takeover by Cranswick would be an obvious match as the pork producer is building a new state-of-the art pastry facility next door to Vion’s site.
The pastry site is due to open next April and will produce upmarket sausage rolls and pastries for Marks & Spencer.
Cranswick is investing £10m in the site, which will employ 200 people.
Mr Couch was speaking yesterday as Hull-based Cranswick announced a 21 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £22.5m for the six months to September 30.
There were concerns that the group would be hit by rising pig prices, but Mr Couch said it is in talks with its customers about raising prices.
“We are in ongoing, constructive talks. We’re getting some traction with some and we’re happy with progress to date,” he said.
UK pig prices are at a three-year high and are expected to continue rising, driven by high livestock feed prices and the implementation of animal welfare standards in Europe.
“We’re paying 160p per kilo – the highest price we’ve ever paid. Producers are still finding it difficult. It’s important that everyone in the food chain behaves responsibly,” he said.
Despite rising prices, pork is still cheap compared with other meats. Pork fillet sells for £10 a kilo whereas beef fillet is £30 a kilo.
Cranswick reported a 15 per cent increase in sausage sales despite the wet summer weather.
Bacon sales rose six per cent.