Robust results at food producer as expansion strategy pays off

Hull-based food producer, Cranswick, has reported a strong revenue rise of 11.9% in its audited preliminary results for the 53 weeks ended 30 March 2024.

Revenues climbed to £2.6bn (2023: £2.3bn), while adjusted profit before tax was 26.1% higher at £176.6m (2023: £140.1m). Statutory profit before tax was £158.4m (2023: £139.5m).

A total of £46.1m was invested in two strategic acquisitions.

This included the £32.8m acquisition of Elsham Linc indoor pig farming business. Cranswick said this further diversifies its pig farming operations and adds additional feed milling capability, with self-sufficiency in UK pigs now over 50%.

In the same period, it also made a £13.3m acquisition of Froch Foods, adding further cooked meat and bacon processing capacity.

Adam Couch, Cranswick chief executive officer, said: “Our successful performance owes a great deal to the substantial investment we have put into enhancing our farming infrastructure and expanding our vertical integration.  

“We have increased the size, scale and quality of our pig herds through ongoing organic growth and the acquisitions of new indoor and premium outdoor pigs.

“Over the last 12 months we have strengthened our asset base, substantially expanded our farming operations, enhanced market positions and developed new customer relationships.  

“We continue to make good progress against each of our strategic objectives and we are well placed to continue our successful development in the current financial year and over the longer term.”

Cranswick notes its success has been achieved in the face of considerable ongoing challenges in the UK food and farming industry, with labour shortages, financial pressures and political uncertainty all proving to be major concerns for many independent producers.

It warns access to labour remains one of the business’s most important challenges.

To address this, it has expanded its recruitment programme and now has more than 650 workers from the Philippines in the company.

Couch said: “One of the measures introduced in spring 2024 was an increase in the salary threshold to £38,700, for those arriving in the UK on Skilled Worker visas.

“This figure marks a significant rise from the previous level of £26,200; a shift that is poised to considerably limit labour accessibility for our group in the foreseeable future.

“The scarcity of labour resources presents a critical challenge, threatening our ability to consistently deliver the exceptional service levels our customers have come to rely on.

“We continue to press Government for a greater understanding of this issue and appreciation of the importance of food security.”