Meats and 'foods-to-go' producer Cranswick saw sales growth accelerate to 10% in the third quarter ended December 31st, from just 3% in the first half.
The good performance was helped by a particularly strong quarter for bacon and fresh pork products as well as positive contribution from all other categories, the firm said. Export sales were "buoyant" and pastry products sales showed "pleasing progress".
Pig meats products - which include fresh pork, bacon, sausages, cooked meats and charcuterie - are continuing to gain an increased market share of the UK retail protein market, and the group saw a further acceleration in this gain over the Christmas period.
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"Both the versatility and the low relative price of pork to other proteins are key to this positive trend. The growing popularity of pork products continues to be a contributory factor in the increase in sales at Cranswick," the statement said.
Cranswick had been affected by rising input costs during the first quarter of the financial year, which was a key factor in the interim pre-tax profits falling from £23.8m to £18.5m.
While there was some recovery in the operating margin compared with the first half, Cranswick said that the year-to-date margin still remains below last year. The operating margin in the first six months of the year stood at 4.8% of sales.
Net debt increased from £48m to £59m during the three month-period due to the seasonal increase in working capital, the uplift in sales and ongoing capital expenditure. The group still has £100m in unsecured facilities going forward.
"Good progress has been made following the challenges of the first half and the Board looks forward positively to the rest of the year and the long term development of Cranswick."
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