Last year the company secured United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) accreditation for its pork production factory in Preston Hull. Now it is seeking the same accreditation for its base in Watton, Norfolk.
Jim Brisby, sales and marketing director, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We’ve had a licence for our plant in Hull for some time and it’s been really useful. Ribs are more widely consumed in the US than in the UK.”
Obtaining the licence is a time-consuming and arduous process, according to Brisby. Parts of the plant have to be brought in line with US regulations, which can involve installing new machinery.
Pork’s higher US price point obviously makes this worthwhile. Add to this the fact that ribs are a popular American eating out experience and they become an important export product.
Brisby said: “It’s really about exportation of the baby back rib. There are only so many ribs per pig so it’s about the value of the product rather than volume sales. There are literally two baby back ribs per pig but the values are improved stateside.”
Exporting meat products
Nicola Mallard, analyst at Investec Securities, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “The advantage of exporting meat products is that in certain parts of the animal are more popular in some countries than others. The trick for processors is to sell all of parts of the pig.
“It’s not that Cranswick can’t sell all of its pork ribs in the UK it’s just that it can get a better price for them in the US so why not?”
Cranswick is also seeking a licence to export to Australia.
Mallard said: “It would have to be the premium cuts of the pig to justify exporting meat that distance.”
On the Australian exports, Brisby said: “This is for our more general supply and involves the regular cuts of meat we consume.”
Direct export licence for China
Cranswick received a direct export licence for China in October. Previously all of its pork exports to China were sent via Hong Kong.
In the UK the company supplies fresh pork, bacon, sausages and other meats to supermarkets. Last month it warned that pig prices in the UK had hit their highest level in three years and would be likely to continue rising.
In response to this it has been conducting “unprecedented” price negotiations with retailers as pig feed prices continue to rise.
These price negotiations, along with efficiency improvements, helped Cranswick boost its interim results for the six months to September 30.