Swine fever outbreak an opportunity to grow sales: Cranswick
Food giant Cranswick plc, which owns a major pork operation in Co Antrim, has said the outbreak of African swine fever in China has provided it with a major export opportunity.
The company, which employs approximately 350 people in Ballymena, has reported a 7% increase in revenues to £770m for the half year.
It said export revenue to key Far Eastern markets was 94.3% higher, reflecting strong demand from China.
Cranswick owns a Cullybackey pork processing operation bought from Dungannon-based Dunbia for £18m in 2016.
Northern Ireland processors have been able to export pork to China for two years.
Adam Couch, Cranswick's chief executive, said: "We have made a positive start to the year, with reported revenue growth of 7.1% underpinned by a very strong performance in our Far East export markets. The UK market remains competitive.
"We have again invested at record levels across our asset base to position the business for future growth."
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The company added that the outbreak of African swine fever "in our Far Eastern export markets has created the opportunity to increase sales into this region on commercially favourable terms".
"We anticipate this opportunity may continue in the medium term provided the UK remains swine fever-free," it explained.
Cranswick said that total fresh pork revenue increased by 15.1%, reflecting stronger wholesale and export demand through the first half of the year.
The number of pigs processed during the period also increased by 8.8%.