Cranswick reports ‘acute shortage of butchers’

Hull-based meat processing giant Cranswick on Thursday published a strong quarterly trading update for the 13 weeks to December 25 — but warned about “unprecedented industry wide labour and supply chain challenges” and “substantial and widespread cost inflation.”

Cranswick said: “The UK pork sector continues to face operational and commercial challenges with the supply of pigs at times exceeding demand and processing capacity.

“Cranswick is working with the wider farming community to reduce the backlog of pigs on farms and, in the current financial year, has increased the number of pigs processed.

“Given the magnitude of this industry issue, we continue to lobby the government for sector support to help alleviate the backlog, including the reinstatement of Chinese export licences and addressing the acute shortage of skilled butchers.”

The company said UK retail demand remained strong during the quarter, reflecting the continued shift towards greater in-home consumption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Performance over the festive trading period was robust and comfortably ahead of the same period in 2020, reflecting a well-executed Christmas plan, supported by exemplary service levels to our customers, with unprecedented industry wide labour and supply chain challenges continuing to be well managed,” said the Hull firm. 

“Substantial and widespread cost inflation was proactively mitigated through tight cost control and ongoing recovery. 

Far East export sales were, as anticipated, lower than the same quarter last year due to market prices falling back from the elevated levels experienced over the previous two years and the ongoing suspension of our Norfolk primary pork processing facility’s China export licence.”