Cranswick Country Foods has acquired pig breeder East Anglian Pigs (EAP) in an effort to shorten the supply chain and gain ownership of its product. It’s estimated that EAP had group assets of about £11.8 million at the time of the acquisition. The deal is rumoured to have been made via cash transaction, following a profitable year for Cranswick.

EAP currently employs 100 workers, and will continue to function as a separate business, albeit benefiting heavily from Cranswick’s investment. The company will retain its current management and continue business operations as normal, including breeding, rearing, finishing and processing pigs.

Chief executive, Adam Couch, said the acquisition of the pig-rearing company was primarily meant to strengthen the supply chain. In turn, customers are reassured, knowing precisely where their pork comes from.

Cranswick said the buy-out showed “its ongoing commitment to, and greater control over, a robust and integrated supply chain with a clear focus on premium, British ingredients. The acquisition of EAP will give the Group’s customers and the UK consumer further assurance as to the provenance and quality of its products”.

The Norfolk-based food supplier is an EDP Top 100 company, employing over 1,000 people. Cranswick previously owned a pig-rearing business in North Yorkshire, but sold it off eight years ago. The company’s recent acquisition of EAP shows the company returning to its agricultural roots.

Business is booming for the food supplier, while things are slightly uncertain for EAP. Last year, Cranswick reported sales of £821 million, with pre-tax profits of nearly £50 million. Meanwhile, the future of the UK pig-rearing industry is unclear. Tightened EU regulations and contracting herds are making things difficult, but the horsemeat crisis is increasing demand for locally sourced meat.

Cranswick is confident the move will benefit both EAP and consumers. In the future, investment will encourage expansion and product quality. In addition, supply chain transparency will reassure British customers, in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.