Eye factory increases output to 1.4m chickens a week as sales soar

Cranswick's chicken factory at Eye Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS

Cranswick's chicken factory at Eye Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

A UK meat giant is ramping up production at its north Suffolk poultry factory as sales soar.

Cranswick says its sales have been buoyed by a rise in exports to Asia with strong demand for its poultry products — while UK pig prices are also increasing rapidly.

Revenue in the 13 weeks to 26 June 2021 was 9.6% ahead of the same period last year, the company said in its first quarter trading update.

The East Yorkshire-based business employs more than 12,900 people across 17 UK production sites — including a poultry factory at Eye with 1,210 workers and a meat processing plant at Watton, near Thetford, which employs 1,245 staff.

The UK pig price increased by 12% during the three months, the company said. The pig sector has been through a difficult year after prices plummeted.

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Cranswick has increased capacity at its poultry site at Eye from 1.1m to 1.4 m birds a week, it said.

It has also opened a new £20m cooked bacon plant in Hull and is working on a breaded poultry facility in the city.

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Chief executive Adam Couch said: “We have made a positive start to the year.  

“Our capital investment programme remains firmly on track as we build the platform to deliver our long-term growth strategy and we continue to make meaningful progress in delivering our group-wide Second Nature sustainability strategy. 

“We also continue to support our customers by delivering excellent service levels to ensure full availability of our products.

“The professionalism and commitment of our colleagues across the business is the foundation on which our successful performance is based and as always I would like to thank them for their continued dedication and support.”

The company’s chairman of 17 years, Martin Davey, stood down at the conclusion of its annual general meeting on Monday, July 26.

Earlier this week the company’s Science Based Target for climate change — which sets out a plan to halve its emissions — was validated.

Shares in the company were trading up by around 2% on Monday morning.

The factory at Eye was finished in 2019 and the workforce transferred to the new site at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020.

The company also employs  a further 350 people at farms and  feed mills in East Anglia

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