Cranswick boss: 'A good Brexit deal is vital for our food'

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 28 Nov 2018

The boss of Hull’s biggest food producer has spoken of the consequences a hard Brexit deal could have on the sector.

Adam Couch, CEO at Cranswick, said the importance of the UK striking a deal which protected the country’s food sector “could not be overstated,” as lingering uncertainty continues.

Cranswick released its half-year results for the six months up to September 30 on Tuesday, and revealed it had invested a record amount of £41m into its operations in that time.

Mr Couch spoke of his concerns surrounding the upcoming Brexit deal. He said: “Food is one of the largest sectors in the UK, so the importance of getting the right Brexit deal cannot be overstated.

“It is important there is something in the deal for the free movement of goods. Export is a key factor for our business.

“The last thing we can afford is a hard Brexit. That would be the worst of all worlds.

“It is important we get some clarity as we need to know what we are getting into,” Mr Couch said.

Read more: Profits boost for Cranswick as record investment fuels growth

The food and drink industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, contributing more than £100bn to the economy every year.

When considering the UK is now only 50 per cent self-sufficient when it comes to pork – a figure which once stood at around 80 per cent – a hard Brexit deal could have a devastating impact on businesses such as Cranswick.

Cranswick is a FTSE 250 food manufacturer based in Hull. (Cranswick)

Despite the threat however, the Hull food giant is pushing ahead, with significant investment in its existing facilities.

Work is also underway on Cranswick’s new world-class £60m facility in Suffolk, which is expected to be completed by the end of the next financial year.

Read more: Chaucer Foods 'cautiously optimistic' for future after profits boost

Cranswick is remaining rooted in East Yorkshire though – the business recently struck a new deal with Holderness farmer Rick Buckle, as well as purchasing two new farms in South Cave and Reedness, near Goole.

“We are renowned for investment across the business, whether that is in production, processing, and more recently in poultry,” Mr Couch said.

Cranswick has invested £41m between April and October in its existing operations

“If you do not continue to invest, you can see your business deteriorate. A lot of our competitors are finding that, and it makes us fit for the future.”

It is not just the movement of goods and exports market that is vital.

Mr Couch said recruitment at Cranswick would also take a hit if a hard Brexit deal was reached.

He said it is “important to get the skillset of people from abroad as well as at home,” and added many of the company’s employees travel across Europe for business.

The company, headquartered at the Sutton Fields industrial estate, recorded pre-tax profits of £44.8m for the first six months of the financial year – up from £44.4m.

Revenue was also up between April and September 30 compared to 2017, from £714.6m to £719.2m.

Cranswick has also recently unveiled its new £27m continental foods facility in Lancashire, and is continuing to invest heavily in its pork and poultry operations.

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