Tulip ceo Chris Thomas told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “Pork is the most consumed meat protein and there are major opportunities to get closer to consumer needs.”
The firm was particularly scrutinising recent developments in “meal solutions”, which could include areas such as pre-prepared meat dishes and ready meals. “It’s about making products simple, accessible and easy to use,” said Thomas.
Tulip has invested millions in upgrading factories and equipment in the past year. The firm would mainly seek to build on that by boosting production and sales, said Thomas.
“The £15M [Westerleigh investment] has expanded capacity [at Westerleigh] by roughly 20%, if we take the overall opportunity. We would now look to have growth and position in the marketplace.”
The company aimed to build on its recent announcement of a multi-million pound export deal with China by focusing on additional export growth, he said. “We manufacture and sell into 130 countries. We see a growing opportunity in Africa, Russia and the US.”
China would be a major area of attention, he said, after declaring recent targets to boost exports to China and Hong Kong by 25%. “China has become more open over time and since 2011 things have really started to accelerate.
‘Evolution of Chinese marketplace’
“We are seeing the evolution of the Chinese marketplace and increased demand for primary products. We have taken the opportunity to make sure we satisfy all Chinese export requirements.”
Disclosing more details on the £15M Westerleigh investment, Thomas said the cash would be used partly to upgrade abattoirs, giving them the latest hygienic design features.
The investment would also be spent on aspects such as pre-chill facilities for carcasses, increased refrigeration, equipment to improve product finish, lairage and upgraded staff amenities, he added.
Last week Tulip announced a £37M investment in its Ashton, Spalding and Westerleigh facilities. It is owned by the Danish Crown group, has 17 sites across the UK and employs 8,000 people.
It makes a range of products for top supermarkets and foodservice customers, including bacon and gammon, sliced cooked meat, sausages, savoury snacks and canned meats.