Meat processor Cranswick has said its annual performance will come in ahead of expectations, after more people feasted on its pork and chicken products while spending Christmas indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company, which owns farms and supplies pork and chicken to British grocery retailers, said its performance during the festive period was ahead of last year, with robust demand expected to continue for the rest of the year.
Cranswick's shares were up 3% at 3,528 pence in early trade.
Coronavirus restrictions have shuttered the hospitality sector and led many people to work and study remotely, with many of the five million or so Britons who normally travel abroad for Christmas staying at home instead.
Supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury's also reported higher sales for this period.
Cranswick, which supplied sandwiches and sausage rolls to UK's front-line National Health Service (NHS) staff during the pandemic, in November raised its dividend for the year ending March 2021 by 12%.
However, the food producer said its Far East export sales were below last year as a greater proportion of the output was directed to UK customers. The temporary self-suspension of its China export licences for its Northern Ireland and Norfolk primary processing facilities also affected Far East export sales.
The company, which makes fresh pork, poultry, convenience and gourmet products, said the licence for the Northern Ireland facility was reinstated on Nov. 23 and it expects exports to resume from the Norfolk facility in the coming weeks.
"We have delivered another strong quarter of growth during which we have supported our customers by delivering excellent service levels to ensure full availability of our products both in store and on the fast-growing online channel," commented Adam Couch, CEO of Cranswick. "None of this would have been possible without the incredible support of our colleagues across the business and on behalf of the Board I thank them for their continued commitment and dedication.
"Our outlook for the current financial year is now expected to be ahead of our previous expectations. Our continued positive progress reflects the substantial ongoing investment in our asset base and the quality and capability of our colleagues."
News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.