Specialist meat firm looking forward to ‘very strong’ Christmas

Brothers William (right) and Geoffrey Buchanan, joint managing directors of Gressingham Foods Pict

Brothers William (right) and Geoffrey Buchanan, joint managing directors of Gressingham Foods Picture: LUCY TAYLOR - Credit: Lucy Taylor

A specialist meat firm is gearing up for a “very strong” festive season following major investment in its north Suffolk factory.

The meat processing factory at Gressingham Foods at Debach, near Woodbridge Picture: SARAH LUCY BRO

The meat processing factory at Gressingham Foods at Debach, near Woodbridge Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Duck meat specialists Gressingham Foods - which also processes a range of other meat products and has been ramping up its turkey production - admitted 2018 had been "a challenging year" as its full-year accounts to February 28, 2019 were published.

The brand - which is run by brothers Geoffrey and William Buchanan from its Debach, Woodbridge base - is owned by the Green Label Foods Ltd.

MORE - Specialist game meat business moves to north SuffolkThe firm has invested heavily in facilities at its major Redgrave processing plant to meet "unprecedented" demand for Christmas turkey, it said.

Results from 2018/19 show that despite strong sales, pre-tax profits plummeted to £591,987 from £4.8m the previous year. Meanwhile, turnover rose from £109.2m to £110.1m over the same period.

William and Geoffrey Buchanan with some Gressingham Foods products Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

William and Geoffrey Buchanan with some Gressingham Foods products Picture: LUCY TAYLOR - Credit: Lucy Taylor

In a strategic report on the year to end of February, Geoff Buchanan said business was positive and sales strong as a result of ongoing investment in product range and a strengthening of the Gressingham brand. The owners were "very focused" on "strengthening their position in the duck, turkey and game market", he said.


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"Christmas 2018 had its challenges with production difficulties which led to a reduction in profitability as a result of bottlenecks in the factory and higher than budgeted labour costs," he added.

"The management have taken steps to ensure that this is not repeated in 2019 with substantial investment in a new packing hall facility and factory improvements. Labour is now better organised and more tightly controlled. In addition the supply of workers for the Christmas 2019 campaign has not been an issue. Planning of production has also been revised and improved, gaining much greater efficiencies."

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A company spokeswoman said: "Gressingham Foods had a challenging year with production issues at Christmas 2018 leading to reduced profitability.

The issues have been addressed with further investment in the business and construction of a new 10,000sq ft packing hall to improve efficiency and meet unprecedented demand for Christmas turkey.

"There has also been investment in the factory to improve the production process. Christmas this year is looking very strong and Gressingham hope to return to previous levels of profitability in this financial year."

This month (December) the company refuted claims by Animal Justice Project concerning the welfare of birds at two duck farms near Thetford. It has launched an investigation into the allegations made in conjunction with its external auditors, it said.

MORE - Investigation into 'shocking' conditions at Norfolk's largest duck farm

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