Cranswick beats the summer blues by turning away from the barbecue

UPMARKET meat to sausage maker Cranswick has overcome the gloomy summer weather by focusing on new products that do not involve the barbecue.

The Hull-based group said barbecue sales have been disappointing during some of the wettest weather on record, but a new premium burger for Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range, premium sausage rolls for Marks & Spencer, a new range of kebabs and new olive and pasta ranges have boosted sales.

The group said sales for the three months to June 30 increased by 7.4 per cent to £209m thanks to strong gains in sausage, bacon and continental products.

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There were increases in pig prices during the period although they remain below the peak of last summer.

This impact was absorbed through increased volumes and operating efficiencies, said the company.

New chief executive Adam Couch said pig prices rose by 10 per cent over the three month period, but they have not increased as much as last year.

“The wider concern for us is feed prices following the droughts in the US,” he warned.

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The group said that while it is mindful of the challenges facing the UK consumer, it is confident about the continued long term success and development of the business.

Last month the group bought premium cooked and roasted meats producer Kingston Foods, which will give it access to pasty chain Greggs and sandwich specialist Pret a Manger.

Cranswick said the acquisition has expanded its cooked meat production capabilities, diversified its product range and broadened its customer base.

No figure was put on the acquisition, but Kingston had gross assets of £3.7m at the end of January.

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The company uses only whole meat products – no formed or re-formed products – and the entire range carries a no added water declaration.

Cranswick has seen a surge in exports recently and it hopes to boost this in the next few months when it gains approval for it to export premium products to Australia.

Former chief executive Bernard Hoggarth stepped down yesterday after 34 years with the group.

Mr Hoggarth, who turns 60 this year, will take up a part-time role as a commercial director, working three days a week.