Cranswick faces disruption at processing plant after positive Covid-19 tests

Adam Couch, CEO of CranswickAdam Couch, CEO of Cranswick
Adam Couch, CEO of Cranswick
Cranswick, the upmarket sausage and bacon producer, has reported positive test results for Covid-19 at its Watton site in Norfolk, which processes pigs.

It is understood that around 140 workers have tested positive for Covid-19 out of the 300 employees who were tested.

The Hull-based firm said: "We can confirm a number of colleagues at our site in Watton have tested positive for Covid-19.

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"They were tested in line with the advice given to us by PHE, are all asymptomatic and currently self-isolating.

"Testing of colleagues at the site is ongoing. We are continuing to work co-operatively with PHE, HSE, DEFRA and Norfolk County Council, but envisage there will be disruption to the full operation of the plant in the short term."

Analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital said: "Such positive cases mean that affected employees are now self-isolated with contacts being tracked down, which makes for potential disruption to optimal production at the factory.

"Accordingly, whilst we anticipate that production will continue at Watton, which it should be said is necessary from an animal welfare perspective too, Cranswick is likely to be drawing a little more upon its Ballymena and Preston (Hull) production sites to fulfil what we believe has been very strong domestic demand for its products in recent times."

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Mr Black said Cranswick has had experience of temporary, Covid-related disruption to production at its Northern Ireland plant.

"We believe that this factory is now performing to expected output levels," he said of the Northern ireland plant.

"Therefore, as may be expected with respect to the current Norfolk test results, Cranswick is working with all of the relevant authorities to make sure that its employees and their local communities are safe."

Mr Black said he believes that Cranswick will have voluntarily self-suspended the export of licenced goods to China from Watton as a precaution.

He said this disruption is likely to remain in place for some weeks so that all the necessary reassurances can be offered to the export market.

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