Cranswick says pig prices have peaked

Cranswick, which supplies fresh pork and gourmet sausages to UK food retailers announced that while first-half sales rose as expected, its business has been dented by a rise in pig prices to record levels.

However, the firm calculates that pig prices have peaked. Prices hit a high in July at 155p/kg, but have stabilised at around 150p. Cranswick has held on to its profit margins despite the high prices and the promise of a barbecue summer which failed to materialise.

Turnover was up by 19%, of which 7% was contributed by its new venture, Cranswick Country Food, Norfolk (formerly Bowes). The integration of CCF Norfolk is going smoothly, it reported.

The pet food business has been sold off to a management buy-out, as sales had fallen from 30% of total turnover a few years back to 5%. That sale brought in 17m and the cash was used to buy Bowes.

Sainsbury's sees growth slowdown

Sainsbury's underlying sales growth of 5.4% for the last quarter was down on last year's growth rate. However, boss Justin King forecasts Sainsbury's is heading for a golden quarter and brushes off concerns that it is losing ground to Tesco in its economy ranges, as well as losing well-heeled customers to Waitrose and Morrisons.

Analysts said the slowdown in growth at the retailer was not a surprise, as it compares with strong figures for last year. Also, food inflation is falling and bringing down sales growth with it.

Tesco's sales boost

Tesco startled commentators by pointing out that while UK sales had risen by 3.7% for the first half, its sales growth in recent weeks had matched and overtaken its competitors on a value, like-for-like basis. Tesco's pre-tax profit over the first half of its financial year rose by 8.6% to 1.57bn. Total global sales climbed by 8.3% to 30.4bn over the six months to 29 August.

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