On completion in 2008, it will increase Cranswick's pig slaughtering capacity from 15-20,000 to 25,000 a week.
"The rest of the site is new, so we had little choice but to invest if we want to develop the premium end of the pork market," explains Adam Couch, managing director of Cranswick's fresh pork division.
The company is also pleased that there were some pork price increases at the end of last year. They were 7%-8% per kilogram higher than last year. However, he believes there is a lot of pressure on processors to keep prices down. This has resulted in a combination of dead weight and average weight price contracts. "Before, we had a spot market," says Couch.
The British focus has to be on the premium end, he believes, because it has 10%-20% on costs resulting from high unilateral welfare standards. "Our Taste the Difference sausage for Sainsbury's has seen phenomenal growth."
Cranswick's unique selling point is that it has the largest herd of outdoor-reared pork at about 30%. "This has a pleasing connotation for UK consumers, who know that 75% of our product is slaughtered within a 45-mile radius of the production site."
Couch also believes that the UK has the most efficient pork producers, who are finally seeing the green shoots of recovery. "It is good to see the retail sector putting the consumer choice in favour of the British requirement. There is a recognisable premium there. If retailers push locally produced pork, consumers will follow with their feet."