Cranswick: Profit boost for Yorkshire producer as it prepares to make 60 million pigs in blankets for Christmas

Yorkshire food production giant Cranswick has recorded a 25 per cent increase in profit ahead of the company preparing for an “extremely busy” Christmas period.

The firm was formed in the early 1970s by farmers in East Yorkshire to produce animal feed and has evolved into a business which produces a wide range of fresh food including pork and poultry, employing more than 14,000 people across the country.

In its newly-published half-year results for the six months to September 23, 2023, the company has recorded an adjusted group operating profit of £85.5m, 25 per cent up on the £68.4m recorded at the same point in 2022.

Revenue was up 12 per cent to £1.253bn from £1.116bn.

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Cranswick said it is building towards “extremely busy Christmas trading period” and expects its results for the full financial to be at the “upper end” of expectations.

Chief executive officer Adam Couch told The Yorkshire Post that the firm is expecting to deliver around 60 million pigs in blankets, one million gammons and two million packs of bacon this Christmas, as well as selling a wider range of “innovative” items such as beef and marrowbone pies.

"We have a huge array of products from almost every one of our sites. It is a very busy festive period we are taking part in and work for next year has already begun now,” he said.

Mr Couch said their products remain affordable to consumers despite the cost-of-living challenges many are facing this Christmas.

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Cranswick is preparing to produce 60 million pigs in blankets for Christmas dinners this year.Cranswick is preparing to produce 60 million pigs in blankets for Christmas dinners this year.
Cranswick is preparing to produce 60 million pigs in blankets for Christmas dinners this year.

“The categories we are involved in, mainly pork and poultry, are the best value. While other proteins may become more challenging because of cost, both pork and poultry very much sit in the value and convenience space. We are anticipating a very strong Christmas trade.”

The firm is seeking to improve its self-sufficiency and as part of those efforts, recently purchased the Elsham Linc indoor pig farming business, which has 16 farms across East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, for £31.7m.

Mr Couch said: “Over 50 per cent of our pigs processed are coming from our own farms. That has been hugely important against a backdrop of a drop in the number of pigs on the marketplace as farmers exit the industry or reduce their involvement.”

It has also started a £62m investment programme at its pork primary processing site in Preston on the outskirts of Hull which currently employs around 1,500 people.

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The two-year scheme will involve greater automation of processes to help increase production levels which Mr Couch said will come in addition to more jobs being created at the facility.

"The most vital part of our business is the people; having the best people running autonomous businesses, making them responsible and rewarding them accordingly means you get the best out of them,” he said. “That is the key.”

Analysts Shore Capital described the results as “outstanding” and said the firm was in its “strongest strategic and financial position” for 20 years and better placed for the future than competitors.

"In a higher interest rate environment, we see the capability gaps that Cranswick has created in pork (over many years) and more recently poultry as unbridgeable for many of its highly leveraged peers, whilst a broadly ungeared balance sheet allows for Cranswick’s sustained investment to continue apace – which we fully expect it to do at c£100m per annum,” it said.