Meals at home boost Cranswick’s results

More meals eaten at home during the period of COVID-19 restrictions has supported the increased sales reported by Cranswick plc, a food company based in the United Kingdom (U.K.). Future prospects have been improved by the renewal of authorization for one of its plants to export to China.

(Cranswick)
(Cranswick)

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has had both positive and negative impacts on the business of Cranswick plc.

In a recent interview with Eastern Daily Press, CEO Adam Crouch attributed the firm’s recently reported increased sales over the past six months to more home consumption. During the prolonged period of COVID-related restrictions, food sales shifted from hospitality venues to the home. That move helped raise Cranswick’s sales of ready-to-eat (RTE) cooked meats 21% year-on-year.

Furthermore, as more people stayed at home, they had more time to cook and enjoy cooked breakfasts. For Cranswick, that trend translated into higher demand for breakfast items such as pork sausages and bacon, said Crouch.

Improved half-year revenue, profit

For the half-year to September 26, Cranswick plc reported revenue of 931.6 million pounds (GBP; US$1.24 billion). That is a 22% increase year-on-year, and a rise of 17% on a like-for-like basis.

At GBP62.0 million, group operating profit was up by almost 31% compared to the same period of 2019. Overall operating margin increased 50 base points to 6.7%.

On the group’s commercial and strategic progress for the half-year, Cranswick reports a “strong contribution” from its new poultry processing facility at Eye in Suffolk. There, work continues to increase both capacity and capability. At the firm’s cooked bacon plant in Hull, a GPB20-million investment is progressing as planned.

Adverse impacts of COVID-19

While the impacts of the pandemic have been positive in terms of Cranswick’s half-year sales, COVID-19 has also hit the company’s operations.

In the half-year report, the company states that the safety and well-being of its workers remain a priority. However, a number of its employees have tested positive for the coronavirus — as have those in other firms in the meat processing sector in the U.K. and many other countries.

Last month, Eastern Daily Press reported a number of cases at Cranswick’s factory at Watton in Norfolk. According to Crouch, the butchery section that was affected is now running normally again.

Cost of the group’s COVID response is put at GBP8 million.

Pork exports to China restored

Chinese authorities have recently reinstated approval for exports of pig meat from the group’s facility in Northern Ireland, where the firm operates as Cranswick Country Foods.

Welcoming this development, local farming association the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) recognized the contributions of both the company and the government veterinary service.

According to the UFU, the company voluntarily rescinded its authorization to export to China after cases of COVID-19 were discovered among workers at the plant in August.

This led to disruption on the Northern Ireland pig meat market, and producer prices dropped. However, now that China has restored the plant’s approval for exports, UFU expects that both the local market and prices will recover for Northern Irish producers.

More on Cranswick plc

Cranswick is among the largest food producers in the U.K., according to the Top Poultry Companies database from Watt Poultry. Supplying fresh pork, chicken, cooked meats and other food products, the company also reports a rapidly growing export business.

Also for the first quarter of the current fiscal year, Cranswick reported strong growth in revenue.

Commenting on the group’s latest annual results, CEO Adam Crouch attributed Cranswick’s growth to its strategies of diversification and acquisition.

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